Nanometre-scale abacus, STM image

Nanometre-scale abacus, STM image

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Credit: IBM RESEARCH/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Nanometre-scale abacus, scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM) image. This array has been developed to function as an abacus, with each molecule forming the 'beads' having a diameter of less than one nanometre. The beads are moved (to count from 0 to 10) using the ultrafine tip of a scanning tunnelling microscope (STM), a needle of conical shape terminating in a single atom. The STM also makes the result of a 'calculation' visible when operated in imaging mode. The beads are moved on a copper surface with atom-scale ridges in the copper acting as 'rails'. This research, by IBM Research Division's Zurich laboratory, was carried out in 1996.

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