Atomic ink

"Conventional" atomic manipulations using a push or pull approach to drag atoms across a surface with an atomic force microscope (AFM) or other system. Now, an international team has developed a new method that involves replacing atoms on a surface with atoms on the AFM tip. The team has used an atomic "ink" composed of silicon to write its chemical symbol "Si" on a surface covered with tin atoms. This new interchange approach to atomic manipulation is much faster than previous methods and can operate at room temperature. It could be used to assemble spintronics devices for the next generation of micro circuitry.