Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Spanish scientists produce the smoothest surface ever created

23.09.2008
A team of physicists from the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM) and the Madrid Institute of Advanced Studies in Nanoscience (IMDEA-Nanociencia) has created the “quantum stabilised atom mirror”, the smoothest surface ever, according to this week's edition of Advanced Materials magazine.

The innovation is already being used in the design of the world's first atomic microscope.

One of the study's authors, Rodolfo Miranda, professor of condensed matter physics at the UAM and director of the IMDEA-Nanociencia, explained to SINC that the innovation with this almost perfect mirror is the ability to reflect “extraordinarily well” most of the atoms that affect it, through the use of materials of nanometric thickness whose properties are dominated by quantum effects.

The mirror resembles a curved wafer. It is made up of a thin silicon crystal with a thickness of 50 microns, and covered with a very fine layer of lead, 1 or 2 nanometres thick. To study the reflection on this metal, the scientists used helium atoms. Until now mirrors made solely from silicon reflected 1% of helium atoms, but by adding the layer of lead they have managed to achieve a reflection of up to 67%.

The lead is deposited on the silicon at a temperature of between -173º and -133º C which, together with the nanometric thickness of the lead, allows its quantum properties to “come to the surface”, and, in an “astonishing and spontaneous” way, bumps on the surface become evened out and a super flat layer is created. “The extraordinary thing about this process is that when the material is heated to room temperature, it does not distort or break, but instead becomes even flatter, enhancing its reflection properties”, Miranda indicated.

These types of mirrors are vital for manufacturing future atomic microscopes. Until now electronic microscopes have achieved the highest resolutions when it comes to viewing objects, but with the disadvantage that the accelerated electrons they use destroy the most delicate biological samples, such as cell membranes or certain protein structures. “With atomic microscopes we hope to achieve the same resolution but without damaging samples”, said the professor of physics.

Miranda pointed out that atoms have a much greater mass than electrons, “which is why we can achieve the same wavelength with far lower energy, allowing us to observe things as small as those observed with an electronic microscope, but without destroying what we are viewing”.

The Spanish researchers, together with the team led by Bill Allison at the University of Cambridge (United Kingdom) and Bodil Holst at the University of Graz (Austria), are now working with the first prototypes of atomic microscopes that use quantum stabilised mirrors, and are confident that the first images obtained with them will be ready next year.

To contact the researcher: Rodolfo Miranda - Departamento de Física de la Materia Condensada (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid) / Instituto Madrileño de Estudios Avanzados en Nanociencia. Teléfonos: 914 976 849 / 914974737

E-mail: rodolfo.miranda@uam.es

SINC Team | alfa
Further information:
http://www.plataformasinc.es

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Computer model predicts how fracturing metallic glass releases energy at the atomic level
20.07.2018 | American Institute of Physics

nachricht What happens when we heat the atomic lattice of a magnet all of a sudden?
18.07.2018 | Forschungsverbund Berlin

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: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>