In this research project, which was conducted by Delft University of Technology's Kavli Institute of Nanoscience, a small group of gold atoms were placed on a gold surface. The Delft researchers then used a High Resolution Electron Microscope (HREM) to show in real-time how this group of atoms collectively sank into the underlying layer of atoms (see the short film at http://virtuallab.nano.tudelft.nl/movies/audis/) and then became arranged in the shape of a surface dislocation (which is an extra row of atoms that is 'squeezed' between the other rows of atoms).
At a later stage, the dislocation disappears, as if a string of beads has been pulled away lengthwise. According to Professor Henny Zandbergen, this is the first time that such a phenomenon has been observed in real-time. This was possible due to the progress that has been made in recent years in image-forming techniques and the processing of the data.
Atomic calculations validated and certified the observation mechanism: for this, Delft University of Technology worked in close cooperation with Princeton University (USA). The research results were published in Physical Review Letters. According to Professor Zandbergen, the observable manner in which the atoms arranged themselves in the underlying layer and the movement of the dislocation (see film) is, in principle, an attractive way of transporting materials from the upper layer to the underlying layer and also within the underlying layer. Normally - and as comprehensively detailed in scientific literature - before an atom can 'hop' from one layer to the underlying layer, certain energy barriers exist. But such barriers do not exist with this manner of transport. The findings of this TU Delft research project clearly indicate that when people are modelling the (industrial) production of thin layers, they must also consider this type of collective processes.
Zandbergen's research is a typical example of the rapid progress currently being made by nano-microscopy, or nano-imaging. Nano-microscopy – the observation of individual atoms or molecules - is becoming increasingly more accurate and faster. It is now possible to observe the movements of atoms in real-time, and this allows the position of the atoms to be determined with great precision (approximately 0.01 nm). So far, this has primarily been observed under laboratory conditions. But soon live nano-imaging will take the next step to realistic and industrial conditions: real-life, real-time nano-imaging.
This will open up a wealth of possibilities for all kinds of medical and industrial applications, especially for those that involve a combination of various nano-imaging technologies and conventional optical microscopy. This will allow information about the different length scales to be combined. It will then be possible to follow the biological processes very realistically, and this will also provide many excellent opportunities for industry. One example is catalysis research. Real-life, real-time nano-imaging allows for closer observation of the catalysis processes, with the logical consequences of this being better catalysts and more efficient chemical processes. In the Netherlands, Delft University of Technology, Leiden University and the microscope manufacturing company FEI, are conducting joint research in nano-microscopy.
The short film about the collective transport of gold atoms can be viewed at: http://virtuallab.nano.tudelft.nl/movies/audis/.
Comet or asteroid? Hubble discovers that a unique object is a binary
21.09.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
First users at European XFEL
21.09.2017 | European XFEL GmbH
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...
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21.09.2017 | Health and Medicine