European Commission logo
français français
CORDIS - Résultats de la recherche de l’UE

Light-induced NanoAssembly

Final Report Summary - LINASS (Light-induced NanoAssembly)

The aim of the LINASS project was to develop new ways to use light to control matter on the smallest scales. It is still extremely difficult to create and combine in specific ways nano-chunks of materials such as metals, semiconductors, and chemically-active polymers. A major achievement of the project has been to harness coinage metals (such as gold and silver) as nanoparticles which can trap light to the scale of single nanometers and below. When light is so tightly confined, it can probe individual atoms and molecules, and we have shown that it can even move them around. We have been able to create mechanical oscillators from the squeezable bonds in individual molecules, looking to see how these can create extremely low-energy switches on which sustainable IT will depend. We have used to light to make in-situ tiny metal nanowires that create electrical links on demand, and are in prospect for the next generations of IT memory devices.

We have also been able to combine molecular systems with these metal nanostructures, to create active devices that respond to light. For instance, we have found a low-cost and surprisingly simple way to make nanoparticles that push each other when even weak light falls on them, and the extremely fast speed generating strong forces that offer a new way forward in making nano-machinery. Other types of optical control have also been possible, for instance using the trapped light to control local chemical reactions, or to join molecules together to make tiny permanent polymer structures.

Perhaps most importantly, we have found ways to really see things on the nanoscale directly and controllably for the first time, studying many basic processes such as how do salt ions organise themselves at nano-interfaces, how do individual molecules move around and flex, how can light induce forces on the sub-nanometer scale, and how can light undo chemical bonds. These open up wide areas for new exploration as we start to really build in earnest on the nanoscale.