Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > Stanford writes in world's smallest letters: Storing information in electron waves

This is an electron wave quantum hologram displaying the initials "SU" of Stanford University. The yellow area is a copper surface. The holes in the copper are molecules of carbon monoxide. Constantly moving electrons on the surface of the copper bounce off the carbon monoxide molecules in predictable ways. With their dual wave/particle properties, the electron waves in the purple area create inference patterns that can store readable information, in this case, SU. To store information, the researchers arrange the molecule in specific patterns with a scanning tunneling microscope.

Credit: Stanford University
This is an electron wave quantum hologram displaying the initials "SU" of Stanford University. The yellow area is a copper surface. The holes in the copper are molecules of carbon monoxide. Constantly moving electrons on the surface of the copper bounce off the carbon monoxide molecules in predictable ways. With their dual wave/particle properties, the electron waves in the purple area create inference patterns that can store readable information, in this case, SU. To store information, the researchers arrange the molecule in specific patterns with a scanning tunneling microscope.

Credit: Stanford University

Abstract:
Stanford researchers have reclaimed bragging rights for creating the world's smallest writing, a distinction the university first gained in 1985 and lost in 1990.

How small is the writing? The letters in the words are assembled from subatomic sized bits as small as 0.3 nanometers, or roughly one third of a billionth of a meter.

Stanford writes in world's smallest letters: Storing information in electron waves

Palo Alto, CA | Posted on January 31st, 2009

The researchers encoded the letters "S" and "U" (as in Stanford University) within the interference patterns formed by quantum electron waves on the surface of a sliver of copper. The wave patterns even project a tiny hologram of the data, which can be viewed with a powerful microscope.

"We miniaturized their size so drastically that we ended up with the smallest writing in history," said Hari Manoharan, the assistant professor of physics who directed the work of physics graduate student Chris Moon and other researchers.

The quest for small writing has played a role in the development of nanotechnology for 50 years, beginning decades before "nano" became a household word. During a now-legendary talk in 1959, the remarkable physicist Richard Feynman argued that there were no physical barriers preventing machines and circuitry from being shrunk drastically. He called his talk "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom."

Feynman offered a $1,000 prize for anyone who could find a way to rewrite a page from an ordinary book in text 25,000 times smaller than the usual size (a scale at which the entire contents of the Encyclopedia Britannica would fit on the head of a pin). He held onto his money until 1985, when he mailed a check to Stanford grad student Tom Newman, who, working with electrical engineering Professor Fabian Pease, used electron beam lithography to engrave the opening page of Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities in such small print that it could be read only with an electron microscope.

That record held until 1990, when researchers at a certain computer company famously spelled out the letters IBM by arranging 35 individual xenon atoms.

Now, in a paper published online in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, the Stanford researchers describe how they have created letters 40 times smaller than the original prize-winning effort and more than four times smaller than the IBM initials. (www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3QQJEHuefQ)

Working in a vibration-proof basement lab in the Varian Physics Building, Manoharan and Moon began their writing project with a scanning tunneling microscope, a device that not only sees objects at a very small scale but also can be used to move around individual atoms. The Stanford team used it to drag single carbon monoxide molecules into a desired pattern on a copper chip the size of a fingernail.

On the two-dimensional surface of the copper, electrons zip around, behaving as both particles and waves, bouncing off the carbon monoxide molecules the way ripples in a shallow pond might interact with stones placed in the water.

The ever-moving waves interact with the molecules and with each other to form standing "interference patterns" that vary with the placement of the molecules.

By altering the arrangement of the molecules, the researchers can create different waveforms, effectively encoding information for later retrieval. To encode and read out the data at unprecedented density, the scientists have devised a new technology, Electronic Quantum Holography.

In a traditional hologram, laser light is shined on a two-dimensional image and a ghostly 3-D object appears. In the new holography, the two-dimensional "molecular holograms" are illuminated not by laser light but by the electrons that are already in the copper in great abundance. The resulting "electronic object" can be read with the scanning tunneling microscope.

Several images can be stored in the same hologram, each created at a different electron wavelength. The researchers read them separately, like stacked pages of a book. The experience, Moon said, is roughly analogous to an optical hologram that shows one object when illuminated with red light and a different object in green light.

For Manoharan, the true significance of the work lies in storing more information in less space. "How densely can you encode information on a computer chip? The assumption has been that basically the ultimate limit is when one atom represents one bit, and then there's no more room—in other words, that it's impossible to scale down below the level of atoms.

"But in this experiment we've stored some 35 bits per electron to encode each letter. And we write the letters so small that the bits that comprise them are subatomic in size. So one bit per atom is no longer the limit for information density. There's a grand new horizon below that, in the subatomic regime. Indeed, there's even more room at the bottom than we ever imagined."

In addition to Moon and Manoharan, authors of the Nature Nanotechnology paper, "Quantum Holographic Encoding in a Two-Dimensional Electron Gas," are graduate students Laila Mattos, physics; Brian Foster, electrical engineering; and Gabriel Zeltzer, applied physics.

The research was supported by the Department of Energy through SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Science (SIMES), the Office of Naval Research, the National Science Foundation and the Stanford-IBM Center for Probing the Nanoscale.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Dan Stober

650-721-6965

Copyright © Stanford University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

Video: The World's Smallest Writing

Stanford News Service story: Reading the fine print takes on a new meaning

MANOHARAN LAB

RICHARD FEYNMAN'S 1959 NANOTECHNOLOGY TALK

NATURENEWS STORY

Related News Press

News and information

Making graphene work for real-world devices: Fundamental research in phonon scattering helps researchers design graphene materials for applications April 24th, 2014

Return on investment for kit and promotion materials April 24th, 2014

Protecting olive oil from counterfeiters April 24th, 2014

NanoSafe, Inc. announces the addition of the Labconco Protector® Glove Box to its NanoSafe Tested™ registry April 23rd, 2014

Videos/Movies

Like a hall of mirrors, nanostructures trap photons inside ultrathin solar cells April 22nd, 2014

Tiny particles could help verify goods: Chemical engineers hope smartphone-readable microparticles could crack down on counterfeiting April 15th, 2014

Biologists Develop Nanosensors to Visualize Movements and Distribution of Plant Stress Hormone April 15th, 2014

Director Wally Pfister joins UC Berkeley neuroengineers to discuss the science behind ‘Transcendence’ April 7th, 2014

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Making graphene work for real-world devices: Fundamental research in phonon scattering helps researchers design graphene materials for applications April 24th, 2014

Gold nanoparticles help target, quantify breast cancer gene segments in a living cell April 23rd, 2014

Atomic switcheroo explains origins of thin-film solar cell mystery April 23rd, 2014

High-Performance, Low-Cost Ultracapacitors Built with Graphene and Carbon Nanotubes: Future devices based on technology could bridge gap between batteries and conventional capacitors in portable electronics and hybrid electric vehicles April 23rd, 2014

Academic/Education

Global leader in solar cell manufacturing eyes New York for major expansion outside of Japan: CNSE and Solar Frontier Explore $700 Million Investment, Job Creation in New York State April 22nd, 2014

University of Waterloo Visits China to Strengthen Bonds With Research Partners April 21st, 2014

Director Wally Pfister joins UC Berkeley neuroengineers to discuss the science behind ‘Transcendence’ April 7th, 2014

First annual science week highlights STEM pipeline and partnerships: UB, SUNY Buffalo State and ECC team up with the City of Buffalo and its schools for April 7-11 events April 3rd, 2014

Discoveries

Making graphene work for real-world devices: Fundamental research in phonon scattering helps researchers design graphene materials for applications April 24th, 2014

Return on investment for kit and promotion materials April 24th, 2014

Protecting olive oil from counterfeiters April 24th, 2014

High-Performance, Low-Cost Ultracapacitors Built with Graphene and Carbon Nanotubes: Future devices based on technology could bridge gap between batteries and conventional capacitors in portable electronics and hybrid electric vehicles April 23rd, 2014

Announcements

Making graphene work for real-world devices: Fundamental research in phonon scattering helps researchers design graphene materials for applications April 24th, 2014

Return on investment for kit and promotion materials April 24th, 2014

Protecting olive oil from counterfeiters April 24th, 2014

High-Performance, Low-Cost Ultracapacitors Built with Graphene and Carbon Nanotubes: Future devices based on technology could bridge gap between batteries and conventional capacitors in portable electronics and hybrid electric vehicles April 23rd, 2014

Grants/Awards/Scholarships/Gifts/Contests/Honors/Records

National Space Society Congratulates SpaceX on the Success of CRS-3 and the First Flight of the Falcon 9R April 22nd, 2014

Energy Research Facility Construction Project at Brookhaven Lab Wins U.S. Energy Secretary's Achievement Award April 16th, 2014

IDTechEx Printed Electronics Europe 2014 Award Winners April 1st, 2014

Dais Analytic Wins SBIR Grant: Dais Analytic Receives US Army Small Business Innovation Research Grant to Further Its Demonstrated Successes in Cleaning Most Forms of Wastewater March 28th, 2014

Photonics/Optics/Lasers

Making graphene work for real-world devices: Fundamental research in phonon scattering helps researchers design graphene materials for applications April 24th, 2014

Return on investment for kit and promotion materials April 24th, 2014

High-temperature plasmonics eyed for solar, computer innovation April 17th, 2014

Scientists Capture Ultrafast Snapshots of Light-Driven Superconductivity: X-rays reveal how rapidly vanishing 'charge stripes' may be behind laser-induced high-temperature superconductivity April 16th, 2014

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE







  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More














ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE