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February 10th, 2011
Aluminum clusters move along graphene tracks, controlled by applied electric currents, in work by Spanish and Dutch researchers.
A long-dreamt-of goal of nanoscience is to deliver materials in a controllable fashion on the nanoscale. Atoms have already been manipulated individually using a scanning tunnelling microscope tip, but this is not feasible on a large scale. Carbon nanotubes are also being used to convey atoms by use of an electric current along the tubes; these are chemically and mechanically stable so can withstand the large current needed to achieve this movement.
Now, in an important breakthrough, a team led by Adrian Bachtold at ICN-CSIC at Barcelona, Spain and with members at the Kavli Institute, Delft, The Netherlands, and ICMAB-CSIC and ICMM-CSIC in Bellaterra and Madrid, Spain, has achieved controlled movement of metal atoms and clusters on graphene for the first time, by using an electric current.
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