Induced Processing At the Molecular Level:
The ability to understand, manipulate and control physico-chemical processes at the molecular level is one of the great challenges of modern research and underpins the development of vibrant new technologies of the 21st century, for example the development of nanolithography. Such single molecule engineering requires selective bond cleavage in target molecules to allow subsequent management of the local site chemistry. Recent research has revealed that it is possible to influence the excitation and dissociation of molecules through the manipulation of electron interactions at the individual molecular level. Since electrons are ubiquitous in nature and electron induced reactions (in the gaseous phase, on surfaces and in the condensed phase) initiate and drive the basic physical-chemical processes in many areas of science and technology from industrial plasmas to living tissues our ability to control electron interactions provides exciting new opportunities that can now be exploited by both the research and technological communities. For example, the development of the Scanning Tunnel Microscope (STM) -an electron emitter- has introduced the capability of atomic-scale imaging, analysis and individual atomic/molecular manipulation providing a new technology that has the opportunity to revolutionize the scientific approach in many aspects of both the material and life sciences.
Currently several European groups are at the forefront of such pioneering research but, in contrast to the USA and Japan, the European research effort is fragmented and coordination is rudimentary or absent. The proposed programme will bring together Europe's leading experimental and theoretical groups in a large-scale, multidisciplinary and collaborative research programme that will both maintain its international excellence and establish Europe as the centre for investigations of molecular control through electron processing with direct relevance in many areas from the basic sciences to industrial applications.
Keywords: Single-molecule engineering, molecular selectivity, surfaces, radiation chemistry, plasmas.