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Nanotechnology tool takes things apart atom by atom

One advanced tool for nanotechnology that has been proposed is the disassembler, a molecular machine system that could take apart objects atom-by-atom and record their structure to that level of precision. Sarah Fister Gale at Small Times brings us news of a macroscale tool that claims to be able to do something quite similar:

The LEAP [Local Electrode Atom Probe], one of only four such tools in North America, uses a high electric field to remove individual atoms from material surfaces and a position-sensitive detector to record information that reveals the atom’s position and identity. The incorporation of a local electrode eliminates or mitigates many of the performance limitations of traditional atomic probe tomographs (ATPs). It can rapidly analyze the molecular make-up of metals and plastics down to their atomic structure, and projects [a] statistically relevant 3D image of the nanostructure…

Experiments that used to take 10 months to complete, can now be conducted in less than 16 hours…

It’s being used by Ford to design new materials now, but it should be useful as we move toward nanodevices and nanosystems requiring atomic precision. —Christine

6 Responses to “Nanotechnology tool takes things apart atom by atom”

  1. atom prober Says:

    The Small Times article has a number of inaccuracies in it. Some of these made it into your excerpt. There are more than four LEAPs in North America, the instrument can use either a laser or high voltage to ionize atoms, it must use a mass spec to measure the identity, and hasn’t been used on plastics very much.

    To see some of the atomic images, you can browse the website of the Northwestern University Center for Atom-Probe Tomography, who owns the LEAP Ford will use.

  2. Phillip Huggan Says:

    It is hard to discern what new nanotechnology tools (new one invented every month or two) may be useful for MNT. This one could fit the bill.

    Its neat that they can construct an accurate map of a material’s surface from a remote detector screen rather than directly like an SPM does.

  3. Martin G. Smith Says:

    Christine – this is indeed interesting news, yet with a price point beyond the reach of most research labs these days, one wonders if access to the technology will remain beyond the reach of all but the well connected and thus, funded. That said however, there is also the opportunity to bring such a tool within the reach of the wider research community, having just committed CDN $3.5 Million to a major upgrade of our main facility, the opportunity stands to create a new resource, a free standing resource, an opportunity, this very day, being actively investigated. Thank you, as always, for your diligence in keeping current with the Crest of the Wave.
    As an aside, we were discussing the whole process which brought the crew at Camp One into the world on NanoTechology, one member said ‘Yeah, we have to find someone to blame.’ Foresight was the unanimous choice.

  4. Northwestern University Center for Atom-Probe Tomography Says:

    Inaccurate Small Times Article on NUCAPT/Ford collaboration spreads

    Another mention of the Ford-NU collaboration, but no link to NUCAPT (even when we have sexy pictures). Worse, there are inaccuracies.

  5. Christine Peterson Says:

    Thanks to those of you sending corrections to the story. That’s one good thing about the web: it is possible to post corrections attached directly to the problematic item.

    Sounds like NUCAPT could benefit from some more aggressive PR. —Christine

  6. Maurice DuBois Says:

    please send me more info.

    very interested in stock potentials!

    thank you

    Mr. Maurice DuBois

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