Artificial materials atom-by-atom

Artificial materials atom-by-atom

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Researchers at Aalto University have manufactured artificial materials with engineered electronic properties. By moving individual atoms under their microscope, the scientists were able to create atomic lattices with a predetermined electrical response. Due to the formation of the lattices, it becomes possible to engineer the electronic properties of the material through the atomic structure.

The researchers used a scanning tunnelling microscope (STM) to arrange vacancies in a single layer of chlorine atoms supported on a copper crystal at 4 degree Kelvin.

Using their atomic assembly method, the research team demonstrated complete control by creating two real-life structures inspired by fundamental model systems with exotic electronic properties.

The same method can be applied in many well-understood systems in surface and nanoscience and could even be adapted to mesoscopic systems, such as quantum dots, which are controlled through lithographic processes.