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D. Designing Molecular Structures at the Atomic Level

Narrator: This is Science Today. Creating designer molecules, one atom at a time may sound farfetched, but that's just what researchers at the University of California are doing. Michael Crommie, a physics professor at UC Berkeley and a staff scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, developed a technique to attach individual potassium atoms to soccer ball shaped carbon-60 molecules, which are known as "buckyballs". This effectively changes their electronic properties.

Crommie: We showed that we are able to take an individual molecule and attach individual atoms to the surface of the molecule. Those atoms then donate their charge to the molecule by changing the number of electrons [at the site of the molecule]. We can also remove those atoms as well.

Narrator: The ability to control the properties of individual atoms is an important factor in the field of nanotechnology.

Crommie: One of the main applications that people are interested in is molecular electronics. A very important trend in industry is to make smaller and faster electronic devices. Pretty soon we'll have devices at the molecular and even atomic scale.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.