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Artificial materials created atom-by-atom

Possibility to arrange the atoms precisely bring designer quantum materials closer to reality

Date:
March 27, 2017
Source:
Aalto University
Summary:
Researchers 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. The possibility to precisely arrange the atoms on a sample bring 'designer quantum materials' one step closer to reality. By arranging atoms in a lattice, it becomes possible to engineer the electronic properties of the material through the atomic structure.
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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. The possibility to precisely arrange the atoms on a sample bring 'designer quantum materials' one step closer to reality. By arranging atoms in a lattice, it becomes possible to engineer the electronic properties of the material through the atomic structure.

Working at a temperature of four degrees Kelvin, the researchers used a scanning tunnelling microscope (STM) to arrange vacancies in a single layer of chlorine atoms supported on a copper crystal.

"The correspondence between atomic structure and electronic properties is of course what happens in real materials as well, but here we have complete control over the structure. In principle, we could target any electronic property and implement it experimentally," says Dr. Robert Drost who carried out the experiments at Aalto University.

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 approach is not limited to the chlorine system chosen by the research team either. 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.

"There are many fascinating theoretical proposals that don't exist in real materials. This is our chance to test these ideas experimentally," explains Academy Research Fellow Teemu Ojanen at Aalto University.


Story Source:

Materials provided by Aalto University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Robert Drost, Teemu Ojanen, Ari Harju, Peter Liljeroth. Topological states in engineered atomic lattices. Nature Physics, 2017; DOI: 10.1038/NPHYS4080

Cite This Page:

Aalto University. "Artificial materials created atom-by-atom: Possibility to arrange the atoms precisely bring designer quantum materials closer to reality." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 March 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170327164933.htm>.
Aalto University. (2017, March 27). Artificial materials created atom-by-atom: Possibility to arrange the atoms precisely bring designer quantum materials closer to reality. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 28, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170327164933.htm
Aalto University. "Artificial materials created atom-by-atom: Possibility to arrange the atoms precisely bring designer quantum materials closer to reality." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170327164933.htm (accessed May 28, 2017).

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