IntroductionThe idea to freely control the atomic-scale structure of matter has intrigued scientists for many decades. A fascinating way to approach this goal is the use of complex functional molecules as pre-fabricated building blocks for nano-scale devices and machines. By virtue of chemical design, such molecules can have built-in functionalities like that of an electric diode or of a mechanical switch. Therefore, simply put, just the right assembly of just the right molecules would be able to perform complex computations or mechanical work at the smallest length scale imaginable. Around this vision, various research areas have clustered which reach from molecular biology (in fact, molecular machines exist already in all organisms) over chemistry (the Nobel Prize in chemistry 2016 was awarded for the synthesis and characterization of molecular machines) to surface physics and nanotechnology. In the MoMaLab we want to explore how far the principles of classical engineering, like deterministic manipulation and piecewise assembly, can be scaled down to the atomic and molecular scale. At the conditions of ultra-high vacuum and cryogenic temperatures, individual molecules come as close as possible to macroscopic work pieces. In the absence of significant thermal fluctuations and contaminations mechanical manipulation could become deterministic and fully reproducible.
Important questions which however remain and which we address in the MoMaLab are, e.g.:
(1) How to actuate such a manipulation?
(2) How to observe the molecule during the manipulation?
(3) How to interpret the sparse data reorded during molecular manipulation with a scanning probe microscope?
Read more on the development of nanotechnology
▶May 18th, 2018New article on the physics of molecular quantum dots online now. Get pdf.. View at PRL..
▶September 5th, 2017ERC starting grant for controlled molecular manipulation. more..
▶ The 21st International Conference on "Non-contact Atomic Force Microscopy"Porvoo, Finland, 17-21 September 2018