Engineering single-atom dynamics with electron irradiation

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Science Advances  17 May 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 5, eaav2252
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav2252


Atomic engineering is envisioned to involve selectively inducing the desired dynamics of single atoms and combining these steps for larger-scale assemblies. Here, we focus on the first part by surveying the single-step dynamics of graphene dopants, primarily phosphorus, caused by electron irradiation both in experiment and simulation, and develop a theory for describing the probabilities of competing configurational outcomes depending on the postcollision momentum vector of the primary knock-on atom. The predicted branching ratio of configurational transformations agrees well with our atomically resolved experiments. This suggests a way for biasing the dynamics toward desired outcomes, paving the road for designing and further upscaling atomic engineering using electron irradiation.

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