Schedule Dec 12, 2001
ITP Public Lecture Series
Building Things with Atoms: A Report from the Small Frontier
Dr. Don Eigler, IBM, Almaden Research Center
The scanning tunneling microscope, invented in the early 1980's, has proven to be a very powerful tool that gives scientists an unprecedented view of the atomic world. What came as a bit of a surprise was the discovery that this marvelous imaging tool, a tool for "seeing," could also be used like a pair of hands for manipulating single atoms and molecules: a tool which allows us to control the structure of matter atom-by-atom. This ability makes possible new opportunities for scientific research and allows us to explore how we might utilize nanometer-scale structures in future technologies.
In this talk I will discuss how we use the scanning tunneling microscope to manipulate atoms and molecules. I will give examples of how we exploit atom manipulation to deepen our knowledge of the physics of very small structures. And, if the atoms are agreeable, we will have the opportunity to explore and interact with the land of atoms through a real-time web-based link to the microscope.

About the author:  Don Eigler is a physicist at IBM's Almaden Research Center in San Jose, CA. His research is concentrated on creating and studying the physical properties of nanometer-scale structures. In 1989 Don demonstrated for the first time the ability to build structures at the atomic level by spelling out "I-B-M" with individual xenon atoms. Since then, his group's research has been aimed at extending basic knowledge about the physics of atomic-scale structures and exploring the potential for atomic-scale logic and data-storage technologies. The group's results include the invention of "quantum corrals," discovery of the "quantum mirage" effect, and demonstration of a fundamentally new way to transport information through a solid. Don received both his bachelors and doctorate degrees from the University of California San Diego and was named its Outstanding Alumnus of the year in 1999. Don has been recognized for his accomplishments with numerous prizes from scientific societies, most recently the Davisson-Germer Prize awarded by the American Physical Society. He was named an IBM Fellow in 1993, the highest technical honor in the IBM Corporation.

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