Scientists at the Paul Drude Institute for Solid State Electronics in Berlin, Germany, have assembled single atoms of different elements, thus forming nanostructures of predefined size and composition. The team lead by Stefan Foelsch used copper (Cu) and cobalt (Co) atoms to produce pairs or various chains of atoms on a substrate surface made of crystalline copper. The scientists report on their work in Physical Review Letters (J. Lagoute et al.: „Doping of monatomic Cu chains with single Co atoms“, published online on April 6).
“We manipulated the atoms in a low-temperature scanning tunneling microscope”, says Stefan Foelsch. He adds: “We found that the quantum effects in these structures can be understood within the framework of textbook physics describing the electronic properties of simple molecules.” Thus, it is possible to taylor “artificial molecules” supported by a solid surface made of magnetic and non-magnetic elements.
The nanostructures engineered and characterized constitute a promising model case for future investigations in order to gain insight into the magnetism of ultimately small structures. Stefan Foelsch says that this is an issue of utmost technological relevance.