As scientists and engineers build devices at smaller and smaller scales, grasping the dynamics of how materials behave when they are subjected to electrical signals, sound and other manipulations has proven to be beyond the reach of standard scientific techniques. But now a team of University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers has found a way to time such effects at the nanometer scale, in essence clocking the movements of atoms as they are manipulated using electric fields.
The accomplishment, reported in the most recent edition (May 12, 2006) of the journal Physical Review Letters, is important because it gives scientists a way to probe another dimension of a material’s structure at the scale of nanometers. Adding the dimension of time to their view of the nanoworld promises to enhance the ability to develop materials for improved memory applications in microelectronics of all kinds, among other things.
"Now we have a tool to look inside a device and see how it works at the spatial scale of nanometers and the time scale of nanoseconds," says Alexei Grigoriev, a UW-Madison postdoctoral fellow and the lead author of the Physical Review Letters paper.
Alexei Grigoriev | EurekAlert!
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