What if you could build materials at the atomic scale?
All the properties of a material–such as whether or not it is a metal or an insulator–depend on the type and positions of the atoms that it consists of. What would happen if we could decide one-by-one where the atoms are? Instead of accepting what nature oﬀers, we are targeting theoretically predicted properties that do not exist in naturally occurring materials. Very advanced microscopic techniques allow us to test for these properties in the lab on a very small scale. Like an old-fashioned record player operating on the atomic scale, the tip of the microscope can move single atoms to exact pre-determined positions. This lets us ‘compose new tunes’ with the atoms, create completely new types of materials that do not exist in nature, and tailor material properties to specific applications.
Peter Liljeroth, professor