New molecular robot offers quantum materials development

An AI-assisted illustration of CARP, a new quantum-level robotic probe. (ChatGPT with image prompting routine).

Researchers have developed a new tool for working with materials at the atomic level. Think of it as a tiny robot that can assemble materials one atom at a time. 

The molecular robot is CARP, short for “chemist-intuited atomic robotic probe.” It combines two cutting-edge technologies: quantum-level probe microscopy and artificial intelligence. The goal is for CARP to automate the time-consuming manual task of manipulating atoms one at a time to develop new materials or products. 

The research team at National University of Singapore specifically sought to create a technique to manipulate and fabricate carbon-based quantum materials like open-shell magnetic nanographenes at the atomic level. The probe is guided and advised by AI algorithms trained on the knowledge of expert chemists. The AI tells the probe how to construct materials atom-by-atom, a task that has been extremely challenging and time-consuming. 

When ready for widespread use, CARP could be used for more than the creation of exotic new materials for industry. It could also be used for engineering quantum computers by precisely arranging atoms to create qubits (quantum computing bits). Another application would be to create molecular electronics, tiny electronic devices built atom-by-atom. In practice, CARP could give scientists and engineers the ability to construct and test new materials with precisely controlled atomic structures. 

The research findings were published in the journal Nature Synthesis in February 2024.

Be the first to comment

Your comments are welcome