Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

It is possible to “write” with atoms using an Atomic Force Microscope

09.01.2009
An international team of scientists, among them researchers from the department of Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics of the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM), present a new method to manipulate atoms.

Nanotechnology exploits the properties of materials on a nanometric scale, (a nanometer is one millionth of a millimeter). The ultimate limit for such miniaturization is the development of devices formed by atomic structures created artificially to fulfil a determined purpose.

The tools that permit the visualization and manipulation of atoms are called proximity microscopes. This includes the Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM), whose development in 1986 earned G. Binning and H. Rohrer the Novel prize for physics, and more recently the Atomic Force Microscope (AFM).

In a study published in Science magazine, an international team of scientists, including researchers from the Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics department at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, present a new method for the manipulation of atoms based on the AFM that makes it possible to build stable atomic structures at room temperature [1].

Unlike all previously developed atomic manipulation methods that consist of pushing or pulling atoms from the surface of a material using the tip of the microscope and require very low temperatures, the new method is based on the controlled interchange of an atom at the tip for a surface atom when the two are close enough. Using the atoms at the tip (that are chemically different to those at the surface) as “ink”, it is possible to “write” or “draw” with the microscope. This interchange process can be repeated in different positions over the surface to form complex structures very efficiently. In particular, this group has “written” the chemical symbol for silicon “Si” (which is the chemical element used as “ink”) on a surface covered with tin atoms.

Thanks to numerical simulations based on quantum mechanics that require the use of supercomputers it has also been possible to explain the basic atomic mechanism behind this process and determine the conditions under which it takes place.

This new manipulation scheme drastically reduces the time necessary to realize complex atomic structures. It can even be used at room temperature and has been proven to work on various semiconductor surfaces. Therefore, this method opens new perspectives in fields like Material Science, Nanotechnology, Molecular Electronics and Spintronics. In particular, the combination of the capacity of the AFM to manipulate individual atoms on surfaces with the possibility of identifying the chemical element. This was demonstrated by the same team in an article published in last year's Nature and will enable the construction of nanostructures with properties and functionalities specified to improve the yield of electronic devices.

For example, placing specific dopant elements in the best position on semi-conductive surfaces to increase the efficiency of nanometric transistors or magnetic atoms would open the possibility of developing devices based on the control of the spin of an electron. These techniques could also bring the possibility of “nano-facturing” of qbits, which are the basic components of what could eventually become a quantum computer.

[1] Complex Patterning by Vertical Interchange Atom Manipulation Using Atomic Force Microscopy.
Yoshiaki Sugimoto 1, Pablo Pou 2, Oscar Custance 3, Pavel Jelinek 4, Masayuki Abe 1, Rubén Pérez 2 & Seizo Morita 1.

Science, Vol. 322, pp 413-417 (17 October 2008)

1 Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka University, 2-1 Yamada-Oka, 565-0871 Suita, Osaka, Japan.
2 Departamento de Física Teórica de la Materia Condensada, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, 28049 Madrid, Spain.
3 National Institute for Materials Science, 1-2-1 Sengen, 305-0047 Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.

4 Institute of Physics, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Cukrovarnicka 10, 1862 53, Prague, Czech Republic.

Oficina de Cultura Científica | alfa
Further information:
http://www.uam.es

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab
15.08.2018 | American Institute of Physics

nachricht Early opaque universe linked to galaxy scarcity
15.08.2018 | University of California - Riverside

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: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

Im Focus: Lining up surprising behaviors of superconductor with one of the world's strongest magnets

Scientists have discovered that the electrical resistance of a copper-oxide compound depends on the magnetic field in a very unusual way -- a finding that could help direct the search for materials that can perfectly conduct electricity at room temperatur

What happens when really powerful magnets--capable of producing magnetic fields nearly two million times stronger than Earth's--are applied to materials that...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

2018 Work Research Conference

25.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

15.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Diving robots find Antarctic winter seas exhale surprising amounts of carbon dioxide

15.08.2018 | Earth Sciences

Early opaque universe linked to galaxy scarcity

15.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>