Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Playfully discover atom manipulation

09.07.2019

Online simulation game makes graphene research available to the public

The team of Toma Susi at the University of Vienna uses a state-of-the-art electron microscope, the UltraSTEM, to manipulate strongly bound materials with atomic precision.


An electron beam focused on a carbon atom next to a silicon impurity atom within the curved wall of a single-walled carbon nanotube can controllably make it jump to where the beam was placed.

Credit: © Toma Susi/University of Vienna


A screenshot of the instructions of the Atom Tractor Beam simulation game.

Credit: © Toma Susi/University of Vienna

Since the instruments used are fully computerized, it is possible to show in a simulation how researchers actually use them. This allows for compelling and largely realistic presentations of the most recent research in materials science.

A simulation game on display at the Vienna Technical Museum in their special exhibition "Work & Production; thinking_forward_" is now also released online, together with the latest research advance of silicon impurity manipulation in single-walled carbon nanotubes.

Electron microscopes enable much greater resolution than optical microscopes. While optical microscopes image using visible light and thus can image objects down to a thousandth of a millimeter, electron microscopes use electron beams and can image much smaller objects, down to individual atoms, such as silicon impurities in the lattice of graphene.

The Nion UltraSTEM scanning transmission electron microscope of the University of Vienna allows a 50,000,000x magnification, and is fully computer-controlled.

Since image contrast depends on how much the electrons are scattered at each location - which in turn is determined by the charge of the nucleus, with silicon having more protons than carbon - we can directly see the where the impurities are located.

In addition to imaging, the focused electron beam of the microscope can be used to move the atoms. Each electron of this beam has a small chance of being scattered back by the nucleus of this targeted atom, giving the atom a small push in the opposite direction, as revealed by earlier research by the group.

The electron beam scans across a graphene sample line by line, revealing the locations of the carbon atoms that make up the lattice, as well as the brighter silicon impurities. In practice, the electron beam is directed by moving a mouse cursor on a computer screen, which controls the microscope electronics.

"So, in effect, we are playing a computer game in order to do our research", Susi explains. He continues. "I used to play many games when I was younger, and I notice that I am faster than some of my younger colleagues who are more used to touch screens!"

The simulation game has been part of the special exhibition "Work & Production; thinking_forward_" at the Vienna Technical Museum that opened last November, and also features typical samples used for the research as well as information on the underlying physics.

Now, to reach an even larger audience, the team is launching a website with the same content, including a browser-based version of the simulation game called "Atom Tractor Beam". The name is inspired by the science fiction concept of an attractive beam of energy popularized by Star Trek.

"The name is appropriate since the silicon impurities move to the location where the cursor is pointed, as if attracted by the electron beam", Susi concludes.

Concurrently with the launch of the website, the team has reported their latest research advance in atom manipulation in an article published by Advanced Functional Materials. In this work, the team demonstrates that silicon impurities, which have thus far been studied in graphene, can also be controllably manipulated in a new material, namely single-walled carbon nanotubes. Since these are confined one-dimensional structures, this advance may enable new kinds of tunable electronic devices.

###

The science communication project was supported by the Vienna Business Agency. Main funding for the research came from the European Research Council (ERC) and the Austrian Science Fund (FWF).

Website:

Atom Tractor Beam (Toma Susi / University of Vienna)

https://www.univie.ac.at/tractorbeam

Special exhibition "Work & Production; thinking_forward_" at the Vienna Technical Museum

https://www.technischesmuseum.at/exhibition/work-and-production

Publication:

Electron-Beam Manipulation of Silicon Impurities in Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes: Kimmo Mustonen, Alexander Markevich, Mukesh Tripathi, Heena Inani, Er-Xiong Ding, Aqeel Hussain, Clemens Mangler, Esko I. Kauppinen, Jani Kotakoski, and Toma Susi. Advanced Functional Materials (online), DOI: 10.1002/adfm.201901327.

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:
https://medienportal.univie.ac.at/presse/aktuelle-pressemeldungen/detailansicht/artikel/atom-manipulationen-spielerisch-entdecken/
http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/adfm.201901327

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Robot uses machine learning to harvest lettuce
08.07.2019 | University of Cambridge

nachricht Making artificial intelligence explainable
03.07.2019 | Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications, Heinrich Hertz Institute, HHI

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Extremely hard yet metallically conductive: Bayreuth researchers develop novel material with high-tech prospects

An international research group led by scientists from the University of Bayreuth has produced a previously unknown material: Rhenium nitride pernitride. Thanks to combining properties that were previously considered incompatible, it looks set to become highly attractive for technological applications. Indeed, it is a super-hard metallic conductor that can withstand extremely high pressures like a diamond. A process now developed in Bayreuth opens up the possibility of producing rhenium nitride pernitride and other technologically interesting materials in sufficiently large quantity for their properties characterisation. The new findings are presented in "Nature Communications".

The possibility of finding a compound that was metallically conductive, super-hard, and ultra-incompressible was long considered unlikely in science. It was...

Im Focus: Modelling leads to the optimum size for platinum fuel cell catalysts: Activity of fuel cell catalysts doubled

An interdisciplinary research team at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has built platinum nanoparticles for catalysis in fuel cells: The new size-optimized catalysts are twice as good as the best process commercially available today.

Fuel cells may well replace batteries as the power source for electric cars. They consume hydrogen, a gas which could be produced for example using surplus...

Im Focus: The secret of mushroom colors

Mushrooms: Darker fruiting bodies in cold climates

The fly agaric with its red hat is perhaps the most evocative of the diverse and variously colored mushroom species. Hitherto, the purpose of these colors was...

Im Focus: First results of the new Alphatrap experiment

Physicists at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg report the first result of the new Alphatrap experiment. They measured the bound-electron g-factor of highly charged (boron-like) argon ions with unprecedented precision of 9 digits. In comparison with a new highly accurate quantum electrodynamic calculation they found an excellent agreement on a level of 7 digits. This paves the way for sensitive tests of QED in strong fields like precision measurements of the fine structure constant α as well as the detection of possible signatures of new physics. [Physical Review Letters, 27 June 2019]

Quantum electrodynamics (QED) describes the interaction of charged particles with electromagnetic fields and is the most precisely tested physical theory. It...

Im Focus: Experimental physicists redefine ultrafast, coherent magnetism

For the first time ever, experimental physicists have been able to influence the magnetic moment of materials in sync with their electronic properties. The coupled optical and magnetic excitation within one femtosecond corresponds to an acceleration by a factor of 200 and is the fastest magnetic phenomenon that has ever been observed.

Electronic properties of materials can be directly influenced via light absorption in under a femtosecond (10-15 seconds), which is regarded as the limit of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on UV LED Technologies & Applications – ICULTA 2020 | Call for Abstracts

24.06.2019 | Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA satellites find biggest seaweed bloom in the world

09.07.2019 | Earth Sciences

Smartphones as ophthalmoscopes save sight: Cost-effective telemedical eye screening of people with diabetes in India

09.07.2019 | Medical Engineering

X-rays reveal monolayer phase in organic semiconductor

09.07.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>