Revolutionizing Quantum Material Manufacturing with AI-Enabled Atomic Probes

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By integrating scanning probe microscopy techniques with deep neural networks, Scientists from the National University of Singapore (NUS) have pioneered a groundbreaking methodology for fabricating carbon-based quantum materials at the atomic scale, showcasing the potential of applying artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance control over atomic manufacturing.

Precision at the Atomic Level

The research, led by Associate Professors LU Jiong and ZHANG Chun from the NUS Departments of Chemistry and Physics, introduces the chemist-intuited atomic robotic probe (CARP), which combines probe chemistry knowledge with AI to precisely fabricate and characterize open-shell magnetic nanographenes at the single-molecule level. These nanographenes are instrumental in developing quantum computers and high-speed electronic devices.

Though scientists have made advancements in creating these materials through on-surface synthesis, precise atomic-level fabrication and tailoring their properties have been hard. CARP leverages deep neural networks trained with the expertise of surface science chemists to solve the problem by enabling automated synthesis and detailed chemical analysis, allowing for precise engineering of π-electron topology and spin configurations.

"Our main goal is to work at the atomic level to create, study and control these quantum materials. We are striving to revolutionise the production of these materials on surfaces to enable more control over their outcomes, right down to the level of individual atoms and bonds."

Professors LU Jiong

Practical Applications and Future Prospects

By autonomously synthesizing open-shell magnetic nanographenes, CARP can provide valuable insights into the mechanisms of unexplored single-molecule reactions. The research team tested the CARP framework on a complex site-selective cyclodehydrogenation reaction, demonstrating its ability to adopt expert knowledge and convert it into machine-understandable tasks efficiently, which can allow for manipulation of the geometric shape and spin characteristics of the resulting chemical compounds.

One of the most promising aspects of this research is the potential for practical applications. The ability to create, study, and control quantum materials at the atomic level could revolutionize the production of these materials, allowing manufacturers to shift from laboratory-based synthesis to on-chip fabrication, which can improve precision, scaling, and integration with existing technologies while being more environmentally friendly.

Insights from AI

The research team also aims to harness the power of AI by extracting hidden insights from the database that a human might miss.

"Our goal in the near future is to extend the CARP framework further to adopt versatile on-surface probe chemistry reactions with scale and efficiency. This has the potential to transform conventional laboratory-based on-surface synthesis process towards on-chip fabrication for practical applications. Such transformation could play a pivotal role in accelerating the fundamental research of quantum materials and usher in a new era of intelligent atomic fabrication"

Professors LU Jiong