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A new way to control individual molecules and monoatomic chains is devised by preparing a human-machine augmented system in which the operator and the machine are connected by a real-time simulation. Here, a 3D motion control system is integrated with an ultra-high vacuum (UHV) low-temperature scanning tunnelling microscope (STM). Moreover, we coupled a real-time molecular dynamics (MD) simulation to the motion control system that provides a continuous visual feedback to the operator during atomic manipulation. This allows the operator to become a part of the experiment and to make any adaptable tip trajectory that could be useful for atomic manipulation in three dimensions. The strength of this system is demonstrated by preparing and lifting a monoatomic chain of gold atoms from a Au(111) surface in a well-controlled manner. We have demonstrated the existence of Fabry-Pérot-type electronic oscillations in such a monoatomic chain of gold atoms and determined its phase, which was difficult to ascertain previously. We also show here a new geometric procedure to infer the adatom positions and therefore information about the substrate atoms, which are not easily visible on clean metallic surfaces such as gold. This method enables a new controlled atom manipulation technique, which we will refer to as point contact pushing (PCP) technique.

Original publication




Journal article


Beilstein J Nanotechnol

Publication Date





337 - 348


STM tip, adatom imaging, mechanical annealing, scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM), tip apex