According to foreign media reports, scientists have developed the world's smallest analytical balance, which can weigh the weight of a single molecule in real time. With this smallest balance, the researchers weighed out the mass of certain protein molecules and gold nanoparticles.

It is understood that the smallest thing in the world was developed by the California Institute of Technology physicist Michael Lukes and his colleagues. Researchers can use this miniature instrument to weigh the mass of individual molecules in real time. The smallest balance can be described as versatile. Chemists can use this highly sensitive scale to determine the chemical properties of unknown substances. The California Institute of Technology research team said that scientists can use this miniature instrument to analyze thousands of proteins in a few milliseconds and require fewer samples.

The world's smallest electronic balance developed by scientists is actually a miniature resonator, only 2 microns long and 120 nanometers wide. It consists of 4 parts, the metal layer (1) is located on a silicon carbide layer (2), attached to a silicon substrate (3) and a micro-support (4). Its working principle is: when weighing the mass of a molecule, the solution containing this molecule is sprayed onto this miniature resonator. When the molecules "fall" onto the resonator, the vibration mode of the resonator will be changed. The microresonator is connected to a circuit, which records the vibration changes and transmits them to the computer, which then calculates the molecular mass. Each time a molecule falls on the resonator, the mass of a molecule is calculated; eventually hundreds of molecules are stacked on the resonator, and scientists can measure it multiple times to obtain very accurate molecular mass data.

So far, Lukes has used this smallest balance to measure the mass of gold nanoparticles and the quality of three cow serum proteins. Currently, he is leading a research team to develop new resonators. They hope that the vibration mode of the new resonator will be more complex and can make more accurate measurements.

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