Researchers from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) documented silicon atoms "dancing" on a graphene sheet using scanning transmission electron microscope. The researchers trapped the silicon atoms (clusters of six atoms) on a graphene sheet using pores in the sheet.

The researchers say that this is the first time silicon atoms were directly seen that way. Using a simple electron beam is not useful because energy is inserted into the cluster. The ability to analyze small clusters is important as this can help understand how different atomic configurations control a material's properties. It could also be used to practical applications in areas such as electronic and optoelectronic devices, as well as catalysis.