Capturing images of the atomic world takes some ingenious particle trickery and big machines. The wavelength of visible light is much too long to be effective on that scale — using a traditional microscope to see atoms would be a bit like sifting for gold with a fishing net.
One breakthrough method, employed in this photo in 1984, involves aiming an intensely focused beam of electrons through a target sample. Analyzing the changes in these penetrating particles can then reveal atomic structures much too small for visible light to ever touch.
The instrument above, a Scanning Transmission Electron Microscope, came to life here at Brookhaven back in 1975.