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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Building Structures Atom by Atom via Electron Beam Manipulation.

  • Author(s): Dyck, Ondrej
  • Kim, Songkil
  • Jimenez-Izal, Elisa
  • Alexandrova, Anastassia N
  • Kalinin, Sergei V
  • Jesse, Stephen
  • et al.

Building materials from the atom up is the pinnacle of materials fabrication. Until recently the only platform that offered single-atom manipulation was scanning tunneling microscopy. Here controlled manipulation and assembly of a few atom structures are demonstrated by bringing together single atoms using a scanning transmission electron microscope. An atomically focused electron beam is used to introduce Si substitutional defects and defect clusters in graphene with spatial control of a few nanometers and enable controlled motion of Si atoms. The Si substitutional defects are then further manipulated to form dimers, trimers, and more complex structures. The dynamics of a beam-induced atomic-scale chemical process is captured in a time-series of images at atomic resolution. These studies suggest that control of the e-beam-induced local processes offers the next step toward atom-by-atom nanofabrication, providing an enabling tool for the study of atomic-scale chemistry in 2D materials and fabrication of predefined structures and defects with atomic specificity.

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