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Aug 8, 2020

Programmable synthetic materials

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, computing

Artificial molecules could one day form the information unit of a new type of computer or be the basis for programmable substances. The information would be encoded in the spatial arrangement of the individual atoms—similar to how the sequence of base pairs determines the information content of DNA, or sequences of zeros and ones form the memory of computers.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) have taken a step towards this vision. They showed that atom probe tomography can be used to read a complex spatial arrangement of ions in multivariate metal-organic frameworks.

Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are crystalline porous networks of multi-metal nodes linked together by organic units to form a well-defined structure. To encode information using a sequence of metals, it is essential to be first able to read the metal arrangement. However, reading the arrangement was extremely challenging. Recently, the interest in characterizing metal sequences is growing because of the extensive information such multivariate structures would be able to offer.

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