World’s Smallest Swiss Cross made by Swiss-Japanese Researcher Team
An international team of researchers around Japanese and Swiss Researchers Shigeki Kawai and Ernst Meyer from the Department of Physics at the University of Basel manufactured the smallest Swiss Cross – made of 20 Single Atoms! – by successfully manipulating atoms on an insulating surface at room temperature. Using the tip of an atomic force microscope, they placed 20 bromine atoms on a sodium chloride surface to construct the shape of the Swiss cross. The structure was created by exchanging chlorine with bromine atoms; this represents the largest number of atomic manipulations ever achieved at room temperature.
Physicists have been able to directly control surface structures by moving and positioning single atoms to certain atomic sites since the 1990’s. At very low temperatures, a number of atomic manipulations have previously been demonstrated both on conducting and semi-conducting surfaces. However at room temperature, the fabrication of artificial structures on an insulator is still a long-standing challenge and previous attempts were uncontrollable and did not deliver the desired results.