Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Spintronics: Carbon Atoms Shot On Video

Science Daily: First Ever Video Of Dynamics Of Carbon Atoms Makes Spintronic-based Computing Look More Promising.

ScienceDaily (Apr. 1, 2009) — Science fiction fans still have another two months of waiting for the new Star Trek movie, but fans of actual science can feast their eyes now on the first movie ever of carbon atoms moving along the edge of a graphene crystal. Given that graphene – single-layered sheets of carbon atoms arranged like chicken wire – may hold the key to the future of the electronics industry, the audience for this new science movie might also reach blockbuster proportions.

Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), working with TEAM 0.5, the world’s most powerful transmission electron microscope, have made a movie that shows in real-time carbon atoms repositioning themselves around the edge of a hole that was punched into a graphene sheet. Viewers can observe how chemical bonds break and form as the suddenly volatile atoms are driven to find a stable configuration. This is the first ever live recording of the dynamics of carbon atoms in graphene.

“The atom-by-atom growth or shrinking of crystals is one of the most fundamental problems of solid state physics, but is especially critical for nanoscale systems where the addition or subtraction of even a single atom can have dramatic consequences for mechanical, optical, electronic, thermal and magnetic properties of the material,” said physicist Alex Zettl who led this research. “The ability to see individual atoms move around in real time and to see how the atomic configuration evolves and influences system properties is somewhat akin to a biologist being able to watch as cells divide and a higher order structure with complex functionality evolves.”

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