Scientists at the MPI directly observe the basic step of self-selection by imaging grid-like assemblies of molecules, which have sorted themselves by size. The features of the grid pattern are about one nanometer in size (0.000 000 001 meters), so small that they can only be imaged using state-of-the-art, ultra sensitive microscopy techniques. "Creating such miniscule architectures with features 50 000 times smaller than a hair is not a simple task," according to Dr. Steven Tait of the MPI. "Carving these nanometer structures with current technology would be inefficient and extremely expensive. Our strategy is to utilize instructed building blocks which can arrange themselves into desired structures."
The molecules are placed on ultra-clean metal surfaces and heated gently to enable motion, sorting, and organization. "The molecule movement on the copper surface is restricted to two-dimensions, but is still efficient enough to allow mixing of the molecules. By placing the molecules on a surface, we have the enormous advantage of being able to use specialized microscopes to ‚see’ the nanometer scale structures of the molecular assemblies," explains Alexander Langner, a graduate student at the MPI and first author of the study.
The study was conducted by Alexander Langner, Dr. Steven Tait, Dr. Nian Lin, and Prof. Dr. Klaus Kern of the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research and Dr. Chandrasekar Rajadurai and Dr. Mario Ruben of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).
Professor Kern is the director of the Nanoscale Science Department at the MPI and leads a large research team conducting a wide range of studies related to the electronic, optical, and chemical properties of novel materials at the nanometer scale. Dr. Ruben is the leader of the research group "Functional Molecular Nanostructures" at the Institute of Nanotechnology in Karlsruhe and has a long-standing competence in the design and synthesis of instructed
|Contact: Professor Dr. Klaus Kern|