Sunday, October 19, 2008

‘Atomic Pen’ Can Write With Single Atoms

A research team at Osaka University has demonstrated the ability to write using individual atoms. It took them an hour and a half, but they were able to write the letters "Si" on a semiconductor surface. The letters measured 2x2 nanometers, roughly forty-thousand (40,000) times less then the size of one of your hairs.

While one of the researchers says that it is not possible to write smaller than this, I am not convinced. Anyone want to wager how long before someone figures out how to use an electron to scratch something onto a neutron? After that it is on to Quarks and Leptons, then who knows. I do not think we have reached the bottom yet in terms of size, but that should not take away from the accomplishment achieved here.

The potential advancement in atomic engineering are obvious.

"sing this atom-interchange phenomenon, the researchers were able to arrange individual silicon atoms one by one on a semiconductor surface to spell out the letters “Si.” The writing process, which took about an hour and a half to complete, was conducted at room temperature.

The completed text measures 2 x 2 nanometers, which is roughly 40,000 times smaller than the width of the average human hair.

“It’s not possible to write any smaller than this,” said Masayuki Abe, a researcher involved in the project.

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