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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/C534158/1
Title: Lateral forces for manipulation and contacting molecular nanostructures and transistors
Principal Investigator: Beton, Professor P
Other Investigators:
Mellor, Dr CJ Moriarty, Professor PJ
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Nanograph Systems Ltd
Department: Sch of Physics & Astronomy
Organisation: University of Nottingham
Scheme: Standard Research (Pre-FEC)
Starts: 09 November 2005 Ends: 08 November 2009 Value (£): 399,668
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Materials Characterisation
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Two decades ago, the invention of a revolutionary instrument called the scanning probe microscope ushered in a new and fascinating area of science based upon the precise control of atoms and molecules, the fundamental building blocks of matter. This new area of science was called nanoscience, a name that arises from the unit of measurement that is most appropriate in the realm of atoms and molecules: the nanometre. A nanometre is one millionth of a millimetre across or, to give some sense of scale, approximately one ten-thousandth of the width of a human hair. Perhaps more importantly, a nanometre represents a distance of a few atomic diameters. Scanning probe microscopes enable scientists to make measurements right down to the nanometre level where it is then possible to explore and modify the complex and intriguing arrangements of atoms and molecules that are at the heart of all materials.We propose to build a new type of scanning probe microscope (SPM) - the first of its kind in the world - which will measure the forces experienced by a single molecule as it is pushed across the atoms of a solid surface. Although the SPM is a microscope in that it produces magnified images of an object, it operates in a completely different fashion to the conventional optical microscopes to which you're accustomed. Instead of using lenses to refract and focus light, the SPM relies on measuring the tiny forces that exist between an ultra-sharp probe and a sample brought to within a few nanometres of each other. When the probe is scanned across the surface of the sample, it responds to the arrangement of atoms and molecules beneath it and this response can be interpreted by a computer to generate a picture of the sample with magnifications of 10,000,000 or greater.Just why is the instrument we propose to build important? Other than providing unprecedented insights into the 'nanoworld', the ability to move and modify individual atoms and molecules is extremely important in the development of new technologies. Let's consider information storage - a key element of today's information technology-driven world. The ultimate information storage device would use single atoms to represent 'bits' of information. It has been estimated that to store all the words ever spoken by human beings would require 5 exabytes of data storage (where an exabyte is 1 million, million, million bytes). Remarkably, with single atom bit technology, all of this information could be stored in a volume occupying less than 1 cm3!
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Organisation Website: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk