Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Manipulation of single atoms provides fundamental insights

28.09.2005


It seemed like science-fiction just a few years ago, but is now common practice for scientists at the Paul Drude Institute for Solid State Electronics (PDI) in Berlin. The scientists manipulate single atoms resting on surfaces and assemble them into wires or tiny clusters. In the world of nanometric dimensions, fundamental material properties such as magnetism, electrical conductivity or chemical reactivity differ from the conventional behaviour observed in everyday life. If metal clusters or semiconductor crystals are made just tiny enough, effects often arise which can be only explained by the laws of quantum physics. Recently, a team of scientists at the PDI documented the transition of the quantum world characteristics of atomic structures to the world of macroscopic material properties. They assembled individual copper atoms on a crystalline copper surface and examined the electronic properties of these artificial structures. Jérôme Lagoute, Xi Liu and Stefan Fölsch published their study in the journal Physical Review Letters *.



The scientists assembled atomic clusters one atom high by manipulating one atom after another and found that, depending on the number of atoms, characteristic quantum states are formed which eventually merge into a widely known surface property, the Shockley surface state. This state can be described as an electron gas located at the surface. "The two-dimensional surface state is text book physics", says Stefan Fölsch, "but we found something new.” For the first time, Lagoute and colleagues revealed the physical linkage between quantum states in atomic-scale structures and the traditional properties of extended surfaces. The researchers conclude that their findings apply not only to copper but to other materials as well.

To manipulate the atoms and to analyze the assembled structures, the scientists used a home-built low temperature scanning tunneling microscope. “At present, few research groups world-wide are able to conduct atom manipulation experiments on this level”, says Fölsch. However, the method will not directly lead to new products or applications in the near future.“Our experiments are performed under very well-defined conditions at low temperature and on ultra-clean surfaces." Nevertheless, studies of suchlike perfect model systems yield fundamental insight which is essential for future developments in nanoscience and technology. “For instance, if you assemble a quantum wire atom by atom”, says Fölsch, “you’d like to know about the detailed electronic characteristics and the electron dynamics associated with this one-dimensional object." The present experiment by the PDI scientists provides an instructive approach to exploring how electronic properties evolve when building artificial structures atom by atom. A detailed understanding of such a scenario is an essential step towards the ultimate goal of “tailoring” magnetic and electronic material properties by controlling size, geometry, and composition at the atomic level.

Josef Zens | alfa
Further information:
http://www.fv-berlin.de

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht A tale of two pulsars' tails: Plumes offer geometry lessons to astronomers
18.01.2017 | Penn State

nachricht Studying fundamental particles in materials
17.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Struktur und Dynamik der Materie

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

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...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

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

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A big nano boost for solar cells

18.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Glass's off-kilter harmonies

18.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Toward a 'smart' patch that automatically delivers insulin when needed

18.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>