Thursday, April 26, 2007

US Patent 7208720 - Molecular manipulation using proximal probe array

This is a fairly interesting patent from IBM concerned with molecular manipulation. IBM's research labrotories have lead the way in many fields of technology with the creation of scanning probe microscopes and atomic force microscopes (often collectively referred to as proximal probes) and the use of these proximal probes to manipulate individual atoms and molecules. This patent extends molecular manipulation by the provision of a proximal probe array capable of creating a controllable electrostatic field used to regulate molecular motion. Such a device could possibly allow for individual molecule control in chemistry experiments or supramolecular fabrication. Claim 1 reads:

1. A device for manipulating a molecule, the device comprising: a set of two or more proximal probes; a substrate, wherein the set of proximal probes are held by the substrate; a set of conductive wires that connect the set of proximal probes to controlling circuitry; first controlling circuitry for asserting an electrostatic pattern on the set of proximal probes to capture a molecule using electrostatic forces that are exerted by the electrostatic pattern; and second controlling circuitry for manipulating the molecule while the molecule remains captured by the set of proximal probes.

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