The molecule carrier is anthraquinone, which consists of three fused benzene rings with one oxygen atom on each side. An organic compound, anthraquinone is widely used in the pulp industry for turning cellulose from wood into paper. It is also the parent substance of a large class of dyes and pigments. Its chemical formula is C14H8O2.
The UCR study used a scanning tunneling microscope in Bartels's laboratory that gives a precise picture of individual molecules. Experiments took place on a highly polished copper surface, cleaned so that only the desired molecules were present on it. An individual anthraquinone molecule appears in Bartels' microscope as an almost rectangular feature with slightly rounded edges.