Colloquium, Department of Physics, University of Rhode Island, 04/21/06

Seeing is Believing: The Origins of Self-Assembly and Growth at Surfaces

Karsten Pohl

Department of Physics and Materials Science Program, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH, U.S.A.

The current push toward new nanotechnologies is mainly driven by the anticipation that new unique properties of nanoscale structures will radically improve the performance of electronic and magnetic devises and sensors. The key challenge is to understand and control the growth and self-assembly processes of nanoscale structures. Theoretically, even for ‘simple’ model systems a quantitative description is difficult due the low symmetry of these reduced dimensionality quantum mechanical systems.

Basic to further understanding the fundamental self-assembly mechanisms of nanoarrays is the knowledge of their structure and dynamics on an atomic level in real time. In this presentation I will introduce two complementary surface microscopies that are well suited to studies of nanoscale growth. I will describe my group’s recent experiments and simulations aimed at unraveling the role of surface stress in the formation of periodic nanostructures at surfaces. All in an attempt to shed more light on the fundamental driving forces of nanostructure evolution and control and test current theories.