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European Research Council funds research into single-molecule devices by atom manipulation

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A team formed by IBM Research scientist Dr. Leo Gross, University Regensburg professor Dr. Jascha Repp, and University Santiago de Compostela professor Dr. Diego Peña Gil has received a European Research Center (ERC) Synergy Grant for their project “Single Molecular Devices by Atom Manipulation” (MolDAM). The ERC funding of this interdisciplinary project includes up to more than €9 million, over six years.

Molecules are nature’s fundamental building blocks for life, having countless different roles, properties and functionalities. In MolDAM a team formed by physicists and chemists will aim to control single molecules and chemical bonds at will.

About MolDAM

Simply put, the main goal of MolDAM is to realize physicist and Nobel laureate Richard Feynman’s vision: building up matter from individual atoms the way we want, by controlling chemical reactions with the tip of a scanning probe microscope. This way, the team wants not only to resolve chemical reactions with unprecedented resolution in space and time, but also to discover completely new reactions.

With these funds, novel molecules and nanostructures will be designed and built with atomic precision using atom manipulation with scanning probe microscopes. Using ultrafast light pulses, MolDAM aims at obtaining “movies” of how a bond is formed, observing in time how atoms rearrange in the course of a chemical reaction. Controlling single-electron charges within the custom-built structures will enable the investigation of electron transfer, carrier generation and recombination and redox-reactions at the molecular level. In other words, the team will catch single molecules in action.

Building and studying atomically defined molecular devices on their intrinsic length and time scales will advance our fundamental understanding of the molecular world with impact on the fields of chemical synthesis, light harvesting, molecular machinery and computing.


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