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IBM Scientists Capture First Speed Measurements of Individual Atoms

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IBM is a pioneer in nanotechnology. Among the company’s many nanotechnology milestones, its scientists won a Nobel Prize for inventing the scanning tunneling microscope (STM), devised methods to manipulate individual atoms for the first time, developed logic circuits using carbon nanotubes and incorporated sub-nanometer material layers into commercially mass-produced hard disk drive recording heads and magnetic disk coatings. IBM's current nanotechnology research aims to devise new atom- and molecular-scale structures and methods for enhancing information technologies, as well as discovering and understanding their scientific foundations.

IBM researchers have developed a breakthrough technique that for the first time gives scientists the ability to record, study and "visualize" the extremely fast spin of electrons inside individual atoms. Similar to how a high-speed video camera captures each flap of a hummingbird’s wing, scientists at IBM Research – Almaden are using the Scanning Tunneling Microscope like a high-speed camera to record the behavior of individual atoms at a speed about 100,000 times faster than previously possible.

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24 Sep 2010 IBM Breakthrough Captures High Speed Measurements of Individual Atoms


  • sebastian thumbnail

    Sebastian Loth, IBM Research - Almaden Post Doctoral Researcher

    Date added: 24 Sep 2010

    Sebastian Loth, IBM Research - Almaden Post Doctoral Researcher IBM Research - Almaden Post Doctoral Researcher in Nanoscale Studies, Sebastian Loth, next to the nobel-prize winning Scanning Tunneling Microscope.

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Kelly Sims
IBM Media Relations
(408) 927-1261

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On September 28, 1989, IBM Fellow Don Eigler became the first person in history to move and control an individual atom. Shortly thereafter, on November 11 of that year, Eigler and his team used a custom-built microscope to spell out the letters IBM with 35 xenon atoms. This unprecedented ability to manipulate individual atoms signaled a quantum leap forward in in nanoscience experimentation and heralded in the age of nanotechnology.