logo

Harnessing the potential of the oddly-shaped molecule

   
   
Molecular model
21 Sep 2010 17:03:36.277
PA 252/10

Scientists at The University of Nottingham have made a discovery that could hold important implications for harnessing the potential of a single molecule at the nanoscale.

In a paper published in the journal Nature Communications, a team of physicists and chemists have demonstrated for the first time the way in which an irregularly shaped molecule is adsorbed on a surface.

It gives important information to scientists on how these molecules could be arranged to form structures, potentially to build tiny new data storage devices which are 40 to 50 times smaller than their existing silicon-based counterparts.
Click here for full story

 The research was led by Professor Peter Beton from the Nanoscience group in the University’s School of Physics and Astronomy in collaboration with Neil Champness, Professor of Chemical Nanoscience in the School of Chemistry.

Professor Champness said: “The majority of work done in this area has focussed on symmetrically-shaped molecules, for example molecules which are square or spherical. The properties and behaviour of these molecules are comparatively easy for us to predict and understand.

“However, only a very small percentage of molecules are symmetrically-shaped and confining our use to those because they are better understood can be seriously constraining.

“Many of the more irregularly-shaped molecules have extremely useful properties — if we can store information on a single molecule which is normally around one nanometre, as opposed to the silicon-based equivalent of 40 to 50 nanometres, we could potentially build devices which are much smaller in size but have a much denser storage capacity.”

The work has involved computer modelling a manganese-based molecule — shaped like a concave ‘jam doughnut’ — and predicting how it would be adsorbed on a gold surface before observing its actual behaviour in the lab. Due to the fragile nature of the molecules, the team had to use a novel electrospray deposition technique to get the molecules onto the surface without destroying their functionality.

The work builds on previous research by the team which was published by Nature back in 2003, where they demonstrated they could trap molecules in a honeycomb-like structure, similar to an egg box, to control the way in which molecules interact with each other and to build more effectively ordered molecular arrays.

The latest research has been supported by the European Community — Research Infrastructure Action, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the European Commission Early Stage Research Training Network, MONET.

The full paper, Self-Assembled Aggregates Formed by Single-Molecule Magnets on a Gold Surface, can be accessed on the Nature Communications website at www.nature.com/ncomms 

— ends —

Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Times as Britain's “only truly global university”, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings.

The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 39,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power.

The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health.

Story credits

More information is available from Professor Peter Beton on +44 (0)115 951 5129, peter.beton@nottingham.ac.uk; Professor Neil Champness on +44 (0)115 951 3505, neil.champness@nottingham.ac.uk; or Dr James O’Shea on +44 (0)115 951 5149, james.oshea@nottingham.ac.uk
Emma Thorne

Emma Thorne - Media Relations Manager

Email: emma.thorne@nottingham.ac.uk Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5793 Location: University Park

Additional resources

No additional resources for this article

Related articles

Big award for tiny technology

Published Date
Thursday 19th November 2009

World first to provide building blocks for new nano devices

Published Date
Tuesday 23rd November 2010

Revolutionising the diagnosis of serious disease

Published Date
Tuesday 2nd June 2009

Experts at Expo discuss hydrogen as future fuel

Published Date
Monday 18th October 2010

NanoWhat? Totally tiny technology!

Published Date
Thursday 28th January 2010

News and Media - Marketing, Communications and Recruitment

The University of Nottingham
C Floor, Pope Building (Room C4)
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 5765
email: communications@nottingham.ac.uk