“Shaping the nanoworld: From identifying atoms and single-molecule chemistry to the millimeter-scale engineering of structures with Angstrom precision”
An ability to shape the nanoworld is of great scientific and technological interest. In this talk, we show two unusual approaches that both allow the formation of structures down to atomic precision. First, we are capitalizing on the fact that with the continued development of scanning probe microscopy techniques, identification of atoms and manipulation of single molecules has become possible, providing unprecedented insight into chemical reactions at the single-molecule level. Here, we first show how to discriminate between oxygen and metal atoms located at an oxidized copper surface to then conduct controlled manipulation experiments with benzene on a Cu (100) surface as a model system designed to identify the influence of nearby structures on the energy barriers the molecules have to overcome during surface reactions. Despite current shortcomings due to the influence of the tip, our results nevertheless indicate that a reliable methodology where surface reactions can be induced by the tip of a scanning probe microscope and the reaction pathway is chosen at will could be in reach, which would ultimately enable an individualized, site-specific understanding of single-molecule surface chemistry.
In the second part of the talk, we will then expand on the theme of atomic-scale shaping by asking how surface morphologies of samples as large as multiple mm2 can be created at will with Angstrom precision. Here we demonstrate the atomically precise imprinting of atomic step structures of a SrTiO3 single crystal used as mold into a Pt-based bulk metallic glass (BMG).