Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Manipulating single atoms with an electron beam

10.07.2018

All matter is composed of atoms, which are too small to see without powerful modern instruments including electron microscopes. The same electrons that form images of atomic structures can also be used to move atoms in materials. This technique of single-atom manipulation, pioneered by University of Vienna researchers, is now able to achieve nearly perfect control over the movement of individual silicon impurity atoms within the lattice of graphene, the two-dimensional sheet of carbon. The latest results are reported in the scientific journal "Nano Letters".

As an epoch-making achievement in nanotechnology, the scanning tunneling microscope has since the late 1980s been able to move atoms over surfaces, and has until very recently been the only technology capable of moving individual atoms in such a controlled manner.


An electron beam focused on a carbon atom next to a silicon impurity atom can controllably make it jump to where the beam was placed. Step by step this allows the silicon to be moved with atomic precision around a hexagonal path.

Credit: © CC-BY, Toma Susi / University of Vienna

Now, the scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM) is able to reliably focus an electron beam with sub-atomic precision, allowing scientists to directly see each atom in two-dimensional materials like graphene, and also to target single atoms with the beam. Each electron has a tiny chance of scattering back from a nucleus, giving it a kick in the opposite direction.

Building on work published over the past few years, a research team at the University of Vienna led by Toma Susi has now used the advanced electron microscope Nion UltraSTEM100 to move single silicon atoms in graphene with truly atomic precision.

Even with manual operation, the achieved movement rate is already comparable to the state-of-the-art in any atomically precise technique. "The control we are able to achieve by essentially directing the electron beam by hand is already remarkable, but we have further taken the first steps towards automation by detecting the jumps in real time", says Susi.

The new results also improve theoretical models of the process by including simulations by collaborators in Belgium and Norway.

In total, the researchers recorded nearly 300 controlled jumps. Additional to extended paths or moving around a single hexagon made of carbon atoms in graphene, a silicon impurity could be moved back and forth between two neighboring lattice sites separated by one tenth-billionth of a meter, like flipping an atomic-sized switch.

In principle, this could be used to store one bit of information at record-high density. Dr. Susi concludes, "Your computer or cellphone will not have atomic memories anytime soon, but graphene impurity atoms do seem to have potential as bits near the limits of what is physically possible."

###

Main funding for this work came from the European Research Council (ERC) and the Austrian Science Fund (FWF).

Publication:

Electron-Beam Manipulation of Silicon Dopants in Graphene: Mukesh Tripathi, Andreas Mittelberger, Nicholas Pike, Clemens Mangler, Jannik C. Meyer, Matthieu Verstraete, Jani Kotakoski, and Toma Susi. Nano Letters Article ASAP, DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.8b02406.

Media Contact

Toma Susi
toma.susi@univie.ac.at
43-142-777-2855

 @univienna

http://www.univie.ac.at/en/ 

Toma Susi | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://medienportal.univie.ac.at/presse/aktuelle-pressemeldungen/detailansicht/artikel/manipulating-single-atoms-with-an-electron-beam/
http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.nanolett.8b02406

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Patented nanostructure for solar cells: Rough optics, smooth surface
18.09.2018 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie GmbH

nachricht With Gallium Nitride for a Powerful 5G Cellular Network - EU project “5G GaN2” started
17.09.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Festkörperphysik IAF

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Scientists present new observations to understand the phase transition in quantum chromodynamics

The building blocks of matter in our universe were formed in the first 10 microseconds of its existence, according to the currently accepted scientific picture. After the Big Bang about 13.7 billion years ago, matter consisted mainly of quarks and gluons, two types of elementary particles whose interactions are governed by quantum chromodynamics (QCD), the theory of strong interaction. In the early universe, these particles moved (nearly) freely in a quark-gluon plasma.

This is a joint press release of University Muenster and Heidelberg as well as the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt.

Then, in a phase transition, they combined and formed hadrons, among them the building blocks of atomic nuclei, protons and neutrons. In the current issue of...

Im Focus: Patented nanostructure for solar cells: Rough optics, smooth surface

Thin-film solar cells made of crystalline silicon are inexpensive and achieve efficiencies of a good 14 percent. However, they could do even better if their shiny surfaces reflected less light. A team led by Prof. Christiane Becker from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) has now patented a sophisticated new solution to this problem.

"It is not enough simply to bring more light into the cell," says Christiane Becker. Such surface structures can even ultimately reduce the efficiency by...

Im Focus: New soft coral species discovered in Panama

A study in the journal Bulletin of Marine Science describes a new, blood-red species of octocoral found in Panama. The species in the genus Thesea was discovered in the threatened low-light reef environment on Hannibal Bank, 60 kilometers off mainland Pacific Panama, by researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama (STRI) and the Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología (CIMAR) at the University of Costa Rica.

Scientists established the new species, Thesea dalioi, by comparing its physical traits, such as branch thickness and the bright red colony color, with the...

Im Focus: New devices based on rust could reduce excess heat in computers

Physicists explore long-distance information transmission in antiferromagnetic iron oxide

Scientists have succeeded in observing the first long-distance transfer of information in a magnetic group of materials known as antiferromagnets.

Im Focus: Finding Nemo's genes

An international team of researchers has mapped Nemo's genome

An international team of researchers has mapped Nemo's genome, providing the research community with an invaluable resource to decode the response of fish to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

One of the world’s most prominent strategic forums for global health held in Berlin in October 2018

03.09.2018 | Event News

4th Intelligent Materials - European Symposium on Intelligent Materials

27.08.2018 | Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Glacial engineering could limit sea-level rise, if we get our emissions under control

20.09.2018 | Earth Sciences

Warning against hubris in CO2 removal

20.09.2018 | Earth Sciences

Halfway mark for NOEMA, the super-telescope under construction

20.09.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>