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Ibm Marks Breakthrough in Molecular Electronics


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IBM Corral (Fe on Cu)

Credit: Union College

IBM scientists have succeeded in measuring the charge state of individual atoms using non-contact atomic force microscopy, which could have a major impact on molecular electronics. The researchers were able to distinguish neutral atoms from positively or negatively charged atoms, creating new possibilities in the exploration of nanoscale structures and devices at the atomic and molecular scale.

To conduct their experiments, the researchers, which included scientists from the University of Regensburg, Germany, and Utrecht University, Netherlands, used a combined scanning tunneling microscope (STM) and atomic force microscope (AFM), operated in a vacuum at a very low temperature, to achieve the high stability necessary for the measurements.

Molecular electronics aims to use molecules as functional building blocks for computing devices and single-electron devices, though an insulating substrate is needed to avoid electron leakage, which makes non-contact atomic force microscopy the preferable investigation method. To study the charge transfer in molecule complexities, scientists believe single atoms could be connected to molecules to form metal-molecular networks. "The AFM with single-electron-charge sensitivity is a powerful tool to explore the charge transfer in molecule complexes, providing us with crucial insights and new physics to what might one day lead to revolutionary computing devices and concepts," says IBM Zurich Research Laboratory research leader Gerhard Meyer.

From eWeek
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