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"I moved a molecule!"

January 23, 2002
IBM's Almaden Research Center
San Jose, Calif.

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The researchers down at IBM's Almaden lab gave some of us O'Reilly folk an afternoon tour this week, showing us what they were up to in interface, database, and quantum computing research. For some of us, the highlight was the final event: a visit with Don Eiger (shown here with his dog, Argon) in Fort Kelvin, the nanotechnology research area. Unless we're victims of a clever simulation, we're there in the lab manipulating carbon monoxide atoms on a copper plate, which are kept cool (and still) in the next room at 4 degrees Kelvin -- just a few notches above absolute zero.

It was pretty damned cool: left mouse click grabbed a molecule, then you dragged it to a new spot, with audio feedback describing the changes in the electric current between the scanning tunneling microscope and the molecue; one more left click dropped it into place.