cfaed Seminar Series

cfaed Seminar Series

Prof. Christian Joachim , Groupe Nanoscience, Pico-Lab, CEMES-CNRS, Toulouse (France)

Constructing single molecule-machinery?

20.10.2017 (Friday) , 11:30 - 12:30
TU Dresden, Villa, Lecture Theatre , Würzburger Str. 46 , 01187 Dresden


After the Blaise Pascal's calculating clock, the vacuum lamps calculators, the computers lithographed on the surface of a silicon crystal, what about embedding all or parts of an electronic calculator on a single molecule [1] and more practically atom by atom at the surface of a large electronic gap semi-conductor [2]? Even mechanical machinery like a train of gears [3], a motor [4] or a car [5] may be one day fully miniaturized down to the end of the material world, molecule by molecule?

We will show how the idea of for example molecular electronics explored for over 30 years and boosted in 1987 by the 1981 invention of the scanning tunneling microscope [6] had introduced a plethora of questions which are now boosting Nanotechnology giving rise to Atom Tech or APM (for atomic precise manufacturing):

Are there enough quantum resources in a single molecule 1 nm in size to make a machine or the elementary machinery of a nanoscale machine [7]? Can Physics provides enough technological paths for exchanging energy and information with one and always the same molecule deposited on a surface [8]? How the new Atom Tech trend is developing with for example new resist free UHV compatible processes [9] and the recent developments of LT-UHV 4 STM [10]? Can atom by atom surface construction be automatized? Does synthetic Chemistry allows for enlarging enough the molecule chemical structure so that it becomes a device without reaching the size up of a protein by elementary function?


[1]: C. Joachim, J.K. Gimzewski and A. Aviram, Nature, 408, 541 (2000).
[2]: M. Kolmer & Coll., Nanoscale, 7, 12325 (2015).
[3]: J. Yang & Coll. Nanotechnology, 25, 465305 (2014).
[4]: U.G.E. Perera & Coll., Nature Nano, 8, 46 (2013).
[5]: G. Rapenne and C.Joachim, Nature Rev. Mater. 2, 17040 (2017).
[6]: C. Joachim, J. Gimzewski, R.R. Schlittler et C. Chavy, Phys. Rev. Lett., 74, 2102 (1995).
[7]: W.H. Soe & Coll., ACS Nano, 5, 1436 (2011).
[8]: S. Srivastava, H. Kino and C. Joachim, Chem. Phys. Lett., 667, 301 (2017).
[9]: M. Kolmer & Coll.,Appl. Surf. Sci., 288, 83 (2014)
[10]: J. Yang & Coll., Eup. Journ. Phys. AP, 73, 10702 (2016).


Christian Joachim is Director of Research Fellow (CNRS) at the Nanoscience group CEMES/CNRS and also since 2008 adjunct Professor of Quantum Physics and Quantum Engineering at ISAE Toulouse. He was A*STAR VIP Atom Tech in Singapore (2005-2014) and is now WPI MANA-NIMS in Toulouse and Tsukuba since 2008. He had coordinated the Integrated European projects "Bottom-up Nanomachines", “Pico-Inside” and “AtMol” (2011-2014) with the objective to construct the first ever molecular chip.

Dr Joachim pioneered experimental researches in IBM T.J. Watson and Zurich Labs on electrical contact on a single molecule using the Scanning Tunnelling Microscope (STM). He did STM works from single molecule switching in 1987 to electronic contact on a single C60 molecule in 1995. He introduced the Elastic Scattering Quantum Chemistry (ESQC) technique in 1991, now a standard in STM image and tunnel transport calculations with its multi-electrodes K-ESQC generalization in years 2000 using a full valence basis set. Some accomplishments include: the discovery of long range tunnel processes through a molecule giving rise to the new super tunnel effect, the theory of atomic and molecular manipulation with the STM, the nanofabrication of metal-insulator-metal nano-junctions down to 2 nm for the planar implementation of molecular devices, the invention of a single molecule amplifier in 1997 and the discovery of the first molecule rotor in 1998. In 2001, he designed the first uni-molecular “wheelbarrow” (2 front wheels and to rear legs) 1.6 nm in dimension. More recently, he finalized the concept of mono-molecular electronics (both semi-classical and quantum) to embed a Boolean logic function with the design of a ½ adder on a single molecule in 2017. He is now developing the atomic scale technology for interconnecting a single molecule (or an atomic scale electronic circuit) to multiple atomic scale electrodes,       (precision better than 0.01 nm) using the first in the world LT-UHV 4 STM instrument. In April 2017, he had organized the first ever international nanocar race on this instrument.

With more than 300 scientific publications (h-index = 56), he presented over 360 invited talks on electron transfer through a molecule, STM and Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) image calculations, tunnel transport through a molecule, single molecule logic gate, atomic scale circuits, atomic scale electronics interconnects and single molecule-mechanical machines. He received a number of prizes for his work in nanoscience and nanotechnology:

  • 1988 French Chemical Physics Prize for his work on electron transfer theory
  • 1991 IBM France Prize for his work on tunnelling through a molecule
  • 1997 Feynman Prize “Experimental” for his work on single molecule manipulation
  • 1999 French Nanotechnology prize for his work on nanoscale science
  • 2000 IBM Corporation’s Share University Research (SUR) Award
  • 2001 CNRS Silver Medal in Chemistry for his work on molecular nanosciences.
  • 2004 Elected Fellow of the Institute of Physics, London
  • 2005 Feynman Prize “Theoretical” for its design of mono-molecular devices.

He is at the origin and editor of the Springer Series “Advances in Atom and Single Molecule machines” with 10 volumes published since 2012. His book: “Nanosciences, the invisible revolution” (Le Seuil (2008), World Scientific (2009)) is describing the history of nanosciences and its political drawbacks to a general public. He was awarded a Guinness book entry (2011) for the smallest ever functioning nano-gear (1.2 nm in diameter) and in 2015 a “Star of Europe” for European projects coordination. He is a permanent member of the Toulouse Academy of “Sciences et Belles Lettres”.

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