In case you missed it (ICYMI), here are some of the stories that made headlines in the world of cleanrooms and nanotechnology in the past week.
Scientists at the University of Bath have come up with a method to visualize, over a millionth of a billionth of a second, the initial quantum behavior of electrons on a surface. These findings mean that researchers may soon be able to manipulate and control the quantum behavior of high energy (aka “hot”) electrons. This is crucial for the development of future high efficiency solar cells, and atomically engineered systems including proposed quantum computing devices.
Solid state physics offers a rich variety of intriguing phenomena, several of which are not yet fully understood. Experiments with fermionic atoms in optical lattices get very close to imitating the behavior of electrons in solid state crystals, thus forming a well-controlled quantum simulator for these systems. Now, a team of scientists around Professor Immanuel Bloch and Dr. Christian Groß at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have observed the mergence of antiferromagnetic order over a correlation length of several lattice sites in a chain of fermionic atoms. Contrary to the ferromagnetism we experience in everyday life, these antiferromagnets are characterized by an alternating alignment of the elementary magnetic moment associated with each electron or atom. Combining their quantum gas microscope with advanced local manipulation techniques, the scientists were able to simultaneously observe the spin and the density distribution with single-site resolution and single atom sensitivity. By approaching the conditions prevailing in macroscopic crystals with fermionic quantum many-body systems, one hopes to achieve a better understanding of phenomena such as the so-called high-temperature superconductivity.
Finally, a gecko expert named Timothy Higham at the University of California, Riverside, has led a study that explains how feet of a particular gecko genus (Gonatodes humeralis) have evolved into sticky appendages. The team’s analysis of the Gonatodes gecko shows that it possesses microscopic hairs called setae underneath its toes, which allow it to cling to smooth surfaces such as leaves. It does this without all of the complex structure of the toes that typify the geckos that we are more familiar with. The setae interact with surfaces through attractive van der Waals forces. The relatively simple expression of setae on the digits of G. humeralis thus provide an enormous advantage in sectors of the habitat typified by smooth, low-friction, inclined surfaces, such as leaves and slippery stems, allowing G. humeralis to avoid predators by occupying habitat that other members of the genus cannot. The gecko feet utilize the same kind of force that causes a particle or soil to adhere to the surface of a component being manufactured or used, or to tooling, or to cleanroom surfaces.
For a detailed description of van der Waals force and how it relates to cleanrooms and cleaning, click here for an exclusive CE article.