The objective of this project is to advance and use Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) to explore the physical and chemical properties of single molecules and molecular systems with unprecedented spatial resolution. We will use AFM to develop atomically resolved molecular imaging with structural and chemical identification and investigate charge distribution and transfer in molecular systems. The AFM will allow the extension of seminal Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM) work on atoms/molecules on ultra-thin insulating films to thick insulating films, to control and explore single molecule chemistry processes in utmost detail. The whole work will be significantly based on the development and exploitation of novel atomic and molecular manipulation processes to control matter at the atomic scale, both for fabricating novel complex molecular nanostructures with atomic scale precision and understanding these systems, as well as for probe-tip functionalization to tailor tip-substrate interaction. Instrumental enhancements will focus on fabricating novel AFM sensors for simultaneous lateral and vertical force measurement and on developing a new original approach to increase the time resolution in AFM measurements. Due to the fundamental nature of this work we expect the long term impact of this work to be in surface science, chemistry, molecular electronics and life sciences. In the short term we expect to develop the AFM into a practical tool for chemical structure determination of unknown molecules and we will employ atomic manipulation and high resolution AFM imaging to image, modify and functionalize graphene edge structures with atomic scale precision with the prospect of exploring and developing novel molecular devices.
Call for proposal
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Funding SchemeERC-AG - ERC Advanced Grant