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January 18, 2011; 108 (3)

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Cover image: Pictured is a scanning tunneling microscope (STM) image of dimethyldisulfide (CH3SSCH3) molecules (red), self-assembled into linear chains on the surface of gold(100) (blue). Low-energy electrons injected into the molecules by the STM probe caused a propagating chain reaction in which sulfur–sulfur bonds broke and then reformed to produce new dimethyldisulfide molecules. The STM, which allows researchers to explore and manipulate solid surfaces with atom-scale resolution, has revolutionized the field of surface chemistry. This PNAS Special Feature provides a snapshot of current developments in the field, highlights state-of-the-art fundamental surface science research, and proposes some possibilities for the future. See the Special Feature introduction by John T. Yates, Jr. and Charles T. Campbell on pages 911–916. Image courtesy of John T. Yates, Jr.

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