January 5, 2012
Relay Race With Single Atoms: New Ways Of Manipulating Matter
Thanks to a collaboration between scientists in San Sebastian and Japan, a relay reaction of hydrogen atoms at a single-molecule level has been observed in real-space. This way of manipulating matter could open up new ways to exchange information between novel molecular devices in future electronics. Dr. Thomas Frederiksen, presently working in the Donostia International Physics Center (DIPC) is one of the scientists that has participated in this research project. The results have been published in the prestigious journal Nature Materials.
An athletic relay race is a competition where each member of a team sprints a short distance with the baton before passing it onwards to the next team member. This collective way of transporting something rapidly along a well-defined track is not only a human activity and invention — a similar relay mechanism, often referred to as structural diffusion, exists at the atomic scale that facilitate transport of hydrogen atoms and protons in hydrogen bonded networks, such as liquid water, biological systems, functional compounds, etc. However, direct visualization of this important transfer process in these situations is extremely difficult because of the highly complex environments.
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