Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Narrowest bridges of gold are also the strongest, study finds

14.07.2011
Technology used to probe tiny samples is licensed to Western New York firm

At an atomic scale, the tiniest bridge of gold -- that made of a single atom -- is actually the strongest, according to new research by engineers at the University at Buffalo's Laboratory for Quantum Devices.


A bridge made of a single atom of gold has twice the strength of bulk gold, according to new UB research. Credit: University at Buffalo

The counterintuitive finding is the result of experiments probing the characteristics of atomic-scale necks of gold that formed when the pointed, gold tip of a cantilever was pushed into a flat, gold surface. An examination of these tiny, gold bridges revealed that they were stiffest when they comprised just a single atom.

The study was published in June in Physical Review B by a trio of UB researchers: postdoctoral fellow Jason Armstrong and professors Susan Hua and Harsh Deep Chopra, all in UB's Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Support for the work came from National Science Foundation grants No. DMR-0706074 and No. DMR-0964830.

As engineers look to build devices such as computer circuits with ever-smaller parts, it is critical to learn more about how tiny components comprising a single atom or a few atoms might behave. The physical properties of atomic-scale gadgets differ from those of larger, "bulk" counterparts.

"Everyday intuition would suggest that devices made of just a few atoms would be highly susceptible to mechanical forces," the team said. "This study finds, however, that the ability of the material to resist elastic deformation actually increases with decreasing size."

Another observation the team made while studying the tiny gold necks: abrupt atomic displacements that occur as the gold tip and surface are drawn apart are not arbitrary, but follow well-defined rules of crystallography. More scientific highlights of the work are summarized in the Physical Review Focus of the American Physical Society at http://focus.aps.org/story/v27/st24.

UB's Laboratory for Quantum Devices, led by Chopra and Hua, works on mapping the evolution of various physical properties of materials -- including mechanical, magnetic and magneto-transport behavior -- as sample sizes grow from a single atom to bulk.

This complicated task requires technology capable of capturing a single or few atoms between probes, and further pushing and pulling on the atoms to study their response.

The sophisticated technology that Armstrong, Hua and Chopra invented and built to accomplish the research was recently licensed to Precision Scientific Instruments Inc., a Western New York start-up company founded by the leaders of Murak & Associates LLC, a management consulting practice; SoPark Corporation, an electronics service manufacturer (ESM); and The PCA Group, Inc., a consulting firm that offers total technology solutions.

"The instruments and methods are incredibly precise and capable of deforming the sample at the picometer scale (about 100 times smaller than an atom), which means literally stretching the bond lengths, and simultaneously measuring the forces at the piconewton level, as well as various other properties. As a very broad perspective, by enabling researchers to probe the very small, the technology could speed advances in fields ranging from satellite communications to health care," said Gerry Murak, president and cofounder of Precision Scientific Instruments, Inc.

"Small is exciting, and atomic scale devices are the new frontier of technology. Metrology systems capable of probing the behavior of atomic-scale devices are sorely needed, and this technology gives us a unique platform," Murak said.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

Charlotte Hsu | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.buffalo.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht A sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections
11.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>