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IBM Science

IBM Measures Force Required To Move Atoms 128

Tjeerd writes "IBM scientists, in collaboration with the University of Regensburg in Germany, are the first ever to measure the force it takes to move individual atoms on a surface. This fundamental measurement provides important information for designing future atomic-scale devices: computer chips, miniaturized storage devices, and more." I've attached a video if you are interested.

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IBM Measures Force Required To Move Atoms

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  • by Enleth ( 947766 ) <> on Thursday February 28, 2008 @11:29AM (#22588446) Homepage
    They've been the first (only?) company to construct their logo with individual atoms [] - and that was in 1990. Looks like they don't give up researching the basics, despite turning more and more into a consulting/support company, not the big iron provider they've always been.
  • Should read (Score:4, Interesting)

    by esocid ( 946821 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @11:35AM (#22588536) Journal
    IBM measures force required to move a cobalt atom over a platinum (and copper) surface. I would gather that the force for different atoms is minutely different, as well as whatever friction or molecular interactions b/w the atom and surface material.

    ...the force required to move a cobalt atom over a smooth platinum surface is 210 piconewtons, while moving a cobalt atom over a copper surface takes only 17 piconewtons
    An almost factor of 13 between the two surfaces. Maybe due to the valence electron difference between the two materials, but it is right that this is important for nano-technology, something about which I know less than physics and chemistry.
  • by imsabbel ( 611519 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @11:39AM (#22588582)
    Because when this story was there a week or two ago, 90% of the comments were stupid jokes.

    This is a really interesting part of surface science, which in itself is more important than people give it credit for.
    The force to move that atom meassured _directly_ is something new, that will also allow more educated guess on the dynamics of self-assembling layers.

    To illustrate a point: All those nice pictures like shoing "IBM" in atoms are usually done on a nice surface (Pt-111), and cooled down to helium temperatures. At room temperatures, those atoms just around on a timescale faster than you can meassure a picture.
    This is also (or even more) the case when creating thin layers on a substrate, where there are lots of different ways for layers to grow (some substrate material combination first grow "islands", others form a single layer, and islands later, others grow layer by layer). This is hard to detect in situ (a LEED picture only shows that much...). So anything we know about those forces helps understanding this behaviour.

    And yeah, about practical applications: Everything from solar cells (organic ones have _very thin_ layers in their CIGGSE sandwitch) to lithography (dielectric mirrors for EUV-lithography is a hot topic)
  • Re:A step forward (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sm62704 ( 957197 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @12:00PM (#22588832) Journal
    A step forward to the Star Trek Matter Replicator.

    When you have a machine that can construct anything out of atoms or even molecules (perhaps nanometer sized machines doing the constructing, in the scale of billions of the little things), then physical property will in fact be equal to intellectual property.

    In short, the only thing that will have monetary value will be land. The "IP" wars being waged today are setting the stage for the future wars between the "have nots" and the "we have but don't want anyone else to"s.

    The matter replicator will cause more upheaval than any invention earth has ever seen. Blood will be shed just to maintain the rich's illusion of superiority.

Matter cannot be created or destroyed, nor can it be returned without a receipt.