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35 atoms that changed the nanoworld

It is 20 years since researchers at IBM spelt out the name of their company with atoms. Chris Toumey looks at the story behind a landmark in nanotechnology.

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Figure 1: A sequence of STM images showing individual xenon atoms on a nickel surface being manipulated with a STM to spell out IBM.
Figure 2: Don Eigler's lab book for 14 February 1990 — the day on which he first succeeded in using an STM to pick up atoms from a metal surface and then place them back on the surface with atomic precision, as opposed to using an STM to slide the atoms across the surface (Fig. 1 and ref. 1).


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Toumey, C. 35 atoms that changed the nanoworld. Nature Nanotech 5, 239–241 (2010).

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