Digital Matter?: Towards Mechanised Mechanosynthesis

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Sch of Physics & Astronomy

Abstract

Computer-controlled chemistry at the single molecule level, a field very much in its infancy, represents arguably the most exciting and, to many, definitive example of the power and potential of nanotechnology. Recent ground-breaking work in Germany and the US has shown that it is possible to drive chemical reactions and to synthesise molecules via interactions driven by a scanning probe. In the UK, the nanoscience groups at Nottingham, Birmingham, and Oxford have demonstrated that atomic/molecular manipulation strategies pioneered at low temperatures can be extended to a room temperature environment. The focus of this fellowship application is to develop next-generation protocols for scanning probe manipulation capable of automated atom-by-atom assembly of, ultimately, three dimensional nanostructures. Our goal is to programme the assembly of matter from its consitutent atoms. This exceptionally challenging objective has the potential to revolutionise key areas of 21st century science including nanofabrication, materials processing, surface chemistry, and the study of low dimensional electron systems.

Publications

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Chiutu C (2011) Measuring Si-C60 chemical forces via single molecule spectroscopy. in Chemical communications (Cambridge, England)

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Jarvis S (2012) Role of orbital overlap in atomic manipulation in Physical Review B

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Jarvis SP (2015) Simulated structure and imaging of NTCDI on Si(1 1 1)-7 × 7 : a combined STM, NC-AFM and DFT study. in Journal of physics. Condensed matter : an Institute of Physics journal

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Jarvis SP (2013) Structural development and energy dissipation in simulated silicon apices. in Beilstein journal of nanotechnology

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Lakin A (2013) Recovering molecular orientation from convoluted orbitals in Physical Review B

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Moriarty P (2010) Fullerene adsorption on semiconductor surfaces in Surface Science Reports

 
Description The key objectives of the grant were to develop new methods of controlling the manipulation of single atoms using scanning probe microscopy. We have developed protocols for the manipulation of single atoms on silicon surfaces using chemical force alone. A highlight of our research was the demonstration of the smallest ever mechanically-activated switch -- two atoms -- being flipped between two states.
Exploitation Route They're published in the literature. We have a strong commitment to open access publishing to make our publicly-funded work as widely accessible as possible. In addition, Nottingham Physics & Astronomy has a strong track record in public engagement via, for example, YouTube (Sixty Symbols) and a variety of other online and "real world" channels.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education

URL http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/physics/research/nano
 
Description A variety of academic and public engagement activities have resulted from EP/G007837/1. This was a Leadership Fellowship grant which focused on the development of new protocols for the imaging and manipulation of single atoms and molecules. The work was fundamental research. There was no commercial driver, nor any focus on delivering commercially exploitable results (as is entirely appropriate for fundamental science). The PI has a very strong commitment to public engagement and outreach and the results from G/007837/1 have featured in a variety of fora: 1. Two videos for the popular Sixty Symbols YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/sixtysymbols). Sixty Symbols is described in an article (written by the PI) in Physics World in February 2014: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/~ppzstm/pdfs/Moriarty_youtube.pdf The videos in question are listed as specific outputs below and have together accrued 230,000 views to date. 2. Results from EP/G007837/01 have been used in a 1st year undergraduate module (Frontiers in Physics) at the School of Physics & Astronomy, and, indeed, formed the basis of an exam question on the 2013-2014 paper. 3. Work on automated optimisation of scanning probes won a Silver Prize at the 2012 HUMIES awards. See http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/computerscience/news/humies-silver-award-for-nat-krasnogor-and-colleagues.aspx
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education
Impact Types Cultural

 
Description ACRITAS - Actuation and Characterisation at the Single Bond Level
Amount £3,361,470 (GBP)
Funding ID ACRITAS 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 10/2012 
End 09/2016
 
Description AtMol EU network
Amount £303,000 (GBP)
Funding ID AtMol 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 12/2011 
End 12/2014
 
Description Mapping molecular force fields and energy landscapes with picometre resolution
Amount £145,790 (GBP)
Funding ID F/00 114/BI 
Organisation The Leverhulme Trust 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2011 
End 02/2014
 
Description ACRITAS network 
Organisation King's College London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I have added only one partner (because I am not going to enter each individual partner, of which there are 24, by hand). The research funded by the Leadership Fellowship established Nottingham as a credible and internationally competitive dynamic force microscopy group. This led directly to the funding of a EU-funded 24 partner (11 core partners, 13 associated partners) network, ACRITAS. See www.acritas.eu for more details including a list of the academic and non-academic partners.
Collaborator Contribution See www.acritas.eu
Impact See www.acritas.eu
Start Year 2012
 
Description Collaboration with King's College London 
Organisation King's College London
Department Department of Physics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This project is a collaborative effort between Nottingham and King's College London, where KCL (Prof. Lev Kantorovich et al.) carries out the theoretical calculations used to support and inform the experimental work at Nottingham.
Collaborator Contribution Density functional theory calculations.
Impact A large number of publications have resulted from the Nottingham-KCL collaboration. These are listed as part of the outputs for each project. The Nottingham-KCL activity has also fed directly into a number of videos for the Sixty Symbols YouTube channel. Again, those outputs are listed for each of the relevant grants.
Start Year 2009
 
Description University of Sheffield 
Organisation University of Sheffield
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This was a sandpit project so there was a direct collaboration with the University of Sheffield (Ashley Cadby and co-workers).
Collaborator Contribution Optical spectroscopy expertise. Complementary experience with public engagement.
Impact Publication in Beilstein Journal of Nanotechnology. Giants of the Infinitesimal -- http://giantsoftheinfinitesimal.com/
Start Year 2007
 
Description Atomic Switch video for Sixty Symbols 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBmBMmuUBMk

A video for the Brady Haran/University of Nottingham Sixty Symbols YouTube channel (see www.youtube.com/sixtysymbols ) which describes a key result of the Leadership Fellowship research programme: the ability to (chemo)mechanically switch the conformation of a single chemical bond. The video has accrued more than 63,000 views at the time of writing (November 2014).

See comments under video.

Note that "What do you consider to be the most important impact of this activity?" drop-down menu below is very limiting. Most important impact in all of our public engagement work is enthusing an audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
URL http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBmBMmuUBMk
 
Description Flipping the world's smallest light switch 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Pop sci article published at the Science website on our dimer flipping work [Sweetman et al. , PRL 2011]

http://news.sciencemag.org/chemistry/2011/03/flipping-worlds-smallest-light-switch.

Considerable number of e-mails about work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
URL http://news.sciencemag.org/chemistry/2011/03/flipping-worlds-smallest-light-switch
 
Description Giants of the Infinitesimal 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact See http://giantsoftheinfinitesimal.com/
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010,2011,2012,2013
 
Description Membership of Institute of Physics Science Board 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Membership of Institute of Physics Science Board . Awarding Body - Institute of Physics, Name of Scheme - Membership of Science Board

Changes in IOP policy.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011,2012,2013,2014
 
Description Membership of International Steering Committee for International NC-AFM conference series. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact As a direct result of the "Digital Matter" research programme, the PI was asked to join the steering committee for the International NC-AFM conference series. The International NC-AFM conference is the most important meeting in the field of dynamic force microscopy. "Membership of a Panel or Group" seemed to be the most appropriate category under which to report this.. Awarding Body - Steering Committee of International NC-AFM conference series, Name of Scheme - Not applicable. Invitation to join Steering Committee

Conferences were organised.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011,2012,2013,2014
 
Description Resolution Frontiers 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Introductory level discussion of scanning probe techniques.

Article in Physics World.

I get involved with public engagement and outreach to inform and enthuse. I do not attempt to log these activities. Indeed, attempting to log and quantify "impact" is likely to be counter-productive in many cases.

Note that the "What do you consider to be the most important impact of this activity" question below is far too limiting. Need to be able to select multiple boxes.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
URL http://nanotechweb.org/cws/article/indepth/44336