Projected payoff by stronger, lighter materials

According to researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, additive manufacturing techniques featuring atomic precision could one day create materials with Legos flexibility and Terminator toughness. In a review paper published in ACS Nano, Olga Ovchinnikova and colleagues provide an overview of existing paths to 3D materials, but the ultimate goal is to create and customize material at the atomic scale.

Being able to assemble matter atom by atom in 3-D will enable us to design materials that are stronger and lighter, more robust in extreme environments and provide economical solutions for energy, chemistry and informatics,” Ovchinnikova said.

By using computation and modeling, researchers can precisely conceive, predict, create and control electrical and other properties of a material instead of having to compromise. Lead author Stephen Jesse noted that the directed matter approach builds on decades of research and uses instruments originally designed to examine materials to fabricate new ones with sub-10-nanometer (10 billionths of a meter) feature resolution.

The paper provides summaries of several other alternatives for atomically precise fabrication of 3-D materials based on electron and ion beams, including focused electron beam-induced processing from gas precursors and liquid precursors. The paper is titled “Directing Matter: Towards Atomic Scale 3D Nanofabrication.” Co-authors are Alex Belianinov, Jason Fowlkes, Andrew Lupini, Philip Rack, Raymond Unocic, Bobby Sumpter, Sergei Kalinin and Albina Borisevich.