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

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