Objectives and Benefits

The main objective of this Action is to develop an interdisciplinary European programme to combine state-of-the-art research in low energy electron induced chemistry and surface science with recent advances in scanning tunnel microscopy to pioneer the new field of electron controlled chemical lithography.

Furthermore, it is the aim of this Action to establish Europe’s science at the forefront in this new field of high potential for industrial applications and to provide the means to maintain that position.

This Action is expected to have considerable social, scientific and economical impact by:

  • Establishing a European forum to identify and characterise the challenges to be met and to assure Europe a leading role in this new and emerging technology.
  • Bringing together the leading European groups with the different expertise needed to meet those challenges.
  • Acting as a link between Europe’s academic and industrial research in this rapidly developing field.
  • Acting as the necessary platform for young researchers to establish themselves in this field, thereby ensuring continuity that will enable Europe to continue to hold a leading position in new emerging technologies.
  • Establishing training methods for new researchers entering the field.
  • Providing the necessary instrument to assure for rapid translation of new knowledge and technologies in the field to actual industrial applications or products.

The success of the Action may be judged by:

  • The establishment of coherent academic/industrial collaborations leading to new projects and commercialisation of academic research.
  • The number of exchanges of staff between participating groups
  • The development of joint research projects
  • The generation of further support from both national and international agencies.
  • The widening of the initial Action to community by integration of other research and industrial partners and the development of new research teams in this area.
  • The success of the dissemination of the work and objectives of the Action to wider scientific, political and public audiences.

At a scientific level the objectives of the Action are to:

  • Develop a detailed understanding of the mechanism of selective bond cleavage by electron induced dissociation in both gaseous and condensed phase including molecular clusters.
  • Develop experimental techniques for achieving chemical control on surfaces with low energy electron beams where different reactions may be induced with 100% selectivity from the same reactants by simple variation of the electron energy.
  • Achieve electron controlled chemistry with molecular resolution by the use of STM to induce site specific reactions of single molecules within pre-activated surfaces.
  • Compile an authoritative database of electron induced reactions in different phases for adoption by the wider scientific community (this includes critical analysis of previous work and selection of data sets for ‘recommended use’ in models, simulations and as benchmarks.
  • Develop techniques and methodologies from the academic laboratory to industrial processing, for example in ‘printing’ chemical and physical properties on surfaces, the fabrication of micro arrays, and for the fabrication of molecular circuits, molecular machines and quantum devices.

Benefits: European groups have been at the forefront of this research, pioneering new methodologies in both theory and experiment. However, Europe’s research efforts in chemical control using electrons remains fragmentary and Europe currently has little infrastructure to bring together the expertise of its disparate groups and, crucially, to link academic research with industrial companies. This Action provides an opportunity to enact a strategy that will ensure that the EU will retain and develop a vibrant research community capable of providing international leadership in the new and exciting field of ECCL.

The major objective is therefore to bring together Europe’s expertise in molecular manipulation with the STM and in chemical control by using low energy electrons to develop methodology for ECCL with resolution ranging from few millimetres down to nanometres.

ECCL is a methodology that has an enormous potential in a variety of actual and foreseeable industrial processes such as to print chemical and physical properties on surfaces, for the fabrication of micro arrays and for the fabrication of molecular circuits, molecular machines and quantum devices.

This is especially true as the industrial community preferably seeks techniques for chemical control that are; (i) relatively inexpensive (ii) composed of apparatuses that are able to be easily adapted to different chemical systems and (iii) requires modest technical skills of the operator. ECCL has the potential to meet these requirements as low energy electrons are particularly well suited to initiate site selective molecular dissociation with high efficiency, and electron sources are easily prepared and readily tuneable through the simple variation of electrostatic potentials.

The potential economical benefits obtain by the translation of knowledge and technologies, acquired by the joint effort of the different expertise in this Action to actual applications is large. Therefore this Action involves potential end users from day one. Contacts with 14 companies working in fields where ECCL has potential applications in active collaboration with this Action have been established. The Action aims to strengthen connections between the scientific community and industrial organisations that are potential end users of ECCL. to ensure rapid translation of new knowledge and technology to applications.

However, the scientific impact on other fields may be as important since electron induced reactions initiate and drive the basic chemical processes in many others areas of science and technology such as astrochemistry, environmental science, industrial plasmas and radiation damage in living tissues. The scientific impact of bringing together Europe’s expertise in both theory end experiment in the field of electron induced reactions, surface science and STM molecular manipulation is therefore expected to go far beyond the scope of this Action and provide data of use to many other fields.


Last updated: 28th September 2007