Single gold atoms altered

August 11/18, 2004

Scientists from IBM's Zürich Research Laboratory and Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden have found a way to alter a single atom.

The researchers used a low-temperature scanning tunneling microscope and a voltage pulse to place an electron on an individual gold atom, then remove the electron. Regular atoms are neutral, while ions -- atoms with more or fewer electrons -- carry a charge.

The gold atom, positioned on an ultrathin film of sodium chloride, remained stable during the operation, despite the change in charge. The gold atom was kept stable by small changes in the positions of nearby atoms in the film.

Ions have different chemical and physical properties than corresponding neutral atoms. Being able to switch an individual atom to an ion and back promises a new way to control attributes like chemical reactivity, optical properties, and magnetic properties, according to the researchers.

This control could eventually lead to devices that work at the atomic scale, like a nonvolatile memory cell that stores information in a single atom. Practical atomic-scale memory would increase the amount of data that can be stored in a given area by 10,000 times, according to the researchers.

Charged atoms can be used to influence nearby molecules as well, according to the researchers.

The work appeared in the July 23, 2004 issue of Science.

Page One

Projector lights radio tags

Cell phone melds video and data

Sound system lets listeners move

Chips measure electron spin

Twisted fiber filters light
Shifty tiles bring walking to VR
Speck trios make secret codes
Single gold atoms altered
Pen writes micro wires
Design eases nano locomotion

Research Watch blog

View from the High Ground Q&A
How It Works

RSS Feeds:
News  | Blog

Ad links:
Buy an ad link


Ad links: Clear History

Buy an ad link

Home     Archive     Resources    Feeds     Glossary
TRN Finder     Research Dir.    Events Dir.      Researchers     Bookshelf
   Contribute      Under Development     T-shirts etc.     Classifieds

© Copyright Technology Research News, LLC 2000-2010. All rights reserved.