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“Explosive” atom movement is new window into growing metal nanostructures

“The textbook said we should see slow, gradual and random. But what we saw? BOOM! Fast, explosive and organized!” said Michael Tringides, physicist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory and a professor of physics and astronomy at Iowa State University.

Tringides is talking about the unusual atom movement he saw when they dropped a few thousand lead atoms onto a flat, smooth lead-on-silicon surface, all at low temperatures, and looked at an area just one-twentieth the width of a human hair.

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