Home / Nanotechnology / Nanomaterials

Researchers answer key question about electron states

phys.org
4 min read
fairly difficult
Scientists are working hard to engineer the properties of nanostructures, such as atoms and molecules, to realize efficient logic devices that can operate at the fundamental scale of matter—the scale of atoms. To make "engineering" possible at that scale, researchers have to be able to look at the internal structure of an atom, the so-called orbital structure, where electrons are confined in a series of shells.
A schematic depiction of virtual electron–positron pairs appearing at random near an electron (at lower left). Credit: RJHall/Wikipedia

Scientists are working hard to engineer the properties of nanostructures, such as atoms and molecules, to realize efficient logic devices that can operate at the fundamental scale of matter—the scale of atoms. To make "engineering" possible at that scale, researchers have to be able to look at the internal structure of an atom, the so-called orbital structure, where electrons are confined in a series of shells.

In a study published this week in ACS Nano, the research led by QNS achieved an unprecedented result: identifying how electrons are distributed among the orbitals of atoms and nanostructures. Using top-notch X-ray generators, called synchrotrons, located in Spain, Switzerland, and Korea, the team identified a method to distinguish the properties of their electrons depending on their orbital.

"We were not sure that we could actually have enough sensitivity to probe all these atomic orbitals individually in such tiny structures" says Prof. Fabio Donati, the primary investigator from QNS. "This result proved a new way to reveal the behavior of these atoms and possibly guide the engineering of their properties to realize future atomic-scale devices".

For this study, the researchers focused on lanthanide elements—the additional row at the bottom of the periodic table. These elements are currently investigated as potential atomic-scale magnets to realize classical or quantum bits for future logic and memory storage…
Science X staff
Read full article