Designer Materials Possible With Designer Electrons

Remarkable new 'designer materials' are being created by Stanford University scientists, working at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

(Designer Materials Possible With Designer Electrons)

"The behavior of electrons in materials is at the heart of essentially all of today's technologies," said Hari Manoharan, associate professor of physics at Stanford and a member of SLAC's Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Science, who led the research. "We're now able to tune the fundamental properties of electrons so they behave in ways rarely seen in ordinary materials."

Their first examples, reported Wednesday in Nature, were handcrafted, honeycomb-shaped structures inspired by graphene, a pure form of carbon that has been widely heralded for its potential in future electronics.

To make the structure, which Manoharan calls molecular graphene, the scientists use a scanning tunneling microscope to place individual carbon monoxide molecules on a perfectly smooth copper surface. The carbon monoxide repels the free-flowing electrons on the copper surface and forces them into a honeycomb pattern, where they behave like graphene electrons.

Precisely positioned carbon monoxide molecules (black) guide electrons (yellow-orange) into a nearly perfect honeycomb pattern called molecular graphene. To tune the electrons' properties, the researchers repositioned the carbon monoxide molecules on the surface; this changed the symmetry of the electron flow. In some configurations, electrons acted as if they had been exposed to a magnetic or electric field. In others, researchers were able to finely tune the density of electrons on the surface by introducing defects or impurities. By writing complex patterns that mimicked changes in carbon-carbon bond lengths and strengths in graphene, the researchers were able to restore the electrons' mass in small, selected areas.

"One of the wildest things we did was to make the electrons think they are in a huge magnetic field when, in fact, no real field had been applied," Manoharan said.

Science fiction fans are excited by this development because it could lead to science fiction materials that previously existed only in novels.

I'm sure readers have their own favorite sfnal materials; here are a few of mine:

  • Fanmetal
    High tensile strength material; used in collapsible structures (from Frank Herbert's 1965 novel Dune).
  • Glassite
    A strong, transparent material (from the 1930 novel Brigands of the Moon by Ray Cummings.
  • Helio-Beryllium
    Unusual alloy combines a metal and a gas (from Robert H. Wilson's 1931 story Out Around Rigel)
  • Steelonium
    Steel that did not rust or corrode (from Hugo Gernsback's 1911 novel Ralph 124c 41 +).
Via Stanford University.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/21/2012)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 3 )

Related News Stories - (" Material ")

Dune Fans! Metal-Organic Frameworks Make Science Fiction Real
'Dew collectors,' he muttered, enchanted by the simple beauty of such a scheme. - Frank Herbert, 1965.

Fungi-Infused Concrete Repairs Itself
'I noticed that curious mottled knots were forming, indicating where the room had been strained and healed faultily.'- J.G. Ballard, 1962.

3D Printed Graphene Aerogel - So Light!
'... light as cork and stronger than steel...' - Edgar Rice Burroughs, 1929.

Vantablack Now IMMEASURABLY Black
'a black coating now thatís ninety-nine percent absorptive...' - Doc Smith, 1934.



Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.






Current News

Dune Fans! Metal-Organic Frameworks Make Science Fiction Real
'Dew collectors,' he muttered, enchanted by the simple beauty of such a scheme.

Manned Maneuvering Unit From 1984
'The glittering little rocket bolted to the black iron behind him.'

Astronaut Gets Younger In Space
'So what we're looking for now is not an antibiotic - an anti-life drug - but an anti-agathic, an anti-death drug...'

Blockchain Used To Verify Election Results
'Any adult could punch into the phone his or her code, followed by a yes or no.'

IJOP Integrated Joint Operations Platform China's Minority Report?
'All day long the idiots babbled, imprisoned in their special high-backed chairs...'

HushMe Bluetooth Device Reinvents The Hush-A-Phone
'Talking into a hush-a-phone which he had plugged into the telephone jack...'

Ultrathin Brain Needle Developed At MIT
Putting drugs into a selected cubic millimeter within the living brain.

Tesla Semi Truck Now At Work
Why wait? Tesla Semi now hard at work.

Illustris: The Next Generation Of Universe Simulation
'This digital device was ... A machine able literally to contain the Universe Itself...'

Scaly Yet Soft Robotic Snake
Love those robotic sneks.

Cool Tinsley Lunar Unicycle Update
Great update of a timeless classic.

NASA's 'Armstrong' Soft Wearable Upper Extremity Garment
'Exact same articulation as your shoulder joint, and it holds your muscles out of the way...'

Kuri Robot Roams Your Home, Taking Pictures
'Small devices with cameras and sound equipment which could move freely...'

Tiny Rubbery Robot To Take 'Fantastic Voyage'
I think that I will wait for other volunteers for this one.

Svalbard Seed Vault (aka Doomsday Vault) Gets Upgrades
'But they existed in the Life Bank, as did virtually every plant and animal that existed on Old Earth.'

Disney Vyloo Robots With Personality
'Let's build robots with Genuine People Personalities...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise | - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.