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Nanoswitches toggled by light
Date:3/5/2008

This release is available in German.

Microscopic fissures in a tiny crystal open and closeon command. Researchers led by Ahmed H. Zewail successfully used ultrafast electron microscopy (UEM) to observe nanoscopic structures at their exercises, as they report in the journal Angewandte Chemie. Such switchable nanochannels could be useful for future nanoelectronics and nanoscopic machines.

Zewail and his team at the California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, USA) are renowned for their work in ultrafast science and technology. Zewail received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1999 for the development of ultrafast laser techniques that are capable of revealing the motions of individual atoms within a molecule during a reaction. The most recent development to spring from Zewails Laboratory is ultrafast electron microscopy. This technique is a combination of a femtosecond optical system (a femtosecond equals 10-15 seconds) with a high-resolution electron microscope; the result is a new tool with extremely high resolution in time as well as in space.

Zewail and his team have now discovered that needle-shaped microcrystals of copper and the organic compound TCNQ (7,7,8,8-tetracyanoquinodimethane, C12H4N4 ), a crystalline, quasi-one-dimensional semiconductor, exhibit optomechanical phenomena that could be of use in nanoelectronic applications. The investigation showed that these crystals stretch out to become longer (but not wider) when they are irradiated with laser pulses in the microscope. If the irradiation is switched off, they contract back to their original size. This effect was most obvious when one of these needles was broken by the shock of a short, strong laser pulse: A small crack of some ten to one hundred nanometers forms at the break. When the crystal is stretched out under irradiation, t
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Contact: Ahmed H. Zewail
zewail@caltech.edu
626-395-6536
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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