Standby for the smallest thing you’ve ever seen. This might look like a deep-sea submarine but it’s actually a scanning tunnelling microscope. Inside it’s more empty than space and it has revolutionised our view of the nano-world. This is an image of a piece of carbon, and these spots are single atoms on a piece of carbon. So one spot is one atom. So this is the smallest thing that you can see, and it’s the smallest thing that you will ever be able to see with any microscope. If you listen carefully you can even hear the atoms as the microscope scans over them. This year, researchers imaged the internal structure of a single molecule for the first time. This is the most detailed view of matter that we’ve ever had. Remarkably it looks almost identical to our models. Not only can the microscope take images, it can also move things around. We can actually change the position of atoms one at a time using this microscope. So we can use the microscope to choose an atom on a surface, move it to a new place and then do this with as many atoms as we want to build up a new structure. And that’s where nanotechnology comes in, because nanotechnology is all about changing the properties of matter atom by atom and making new structures. Throughout history we’ve been making smaller and smaller machines. Now scientists are looking at ways to create machines at the smallest scale possible. Using atoms as their building blocks. Some researchers believe that we could construct molecular machines that could make anything we wanted. If this happens it will revolutionise our lives. We know that molecular machines can work because they’re in every cell of our bodies. They’re working away right now turning food into energy, fixing damage, keeping you warm and making new cells. You are already a masterpiece of molecular nanotechnology.