Nanoscale objects move fast and oscillate billions of times per second. Such movements occur naturally in the form of thermal (Brownian) motion while stimulated movements underpin the functionality of nano-mechanical sensors and active nano-(electro/opto) mechanical devices. Here we introduce a methodology for detecting such movements, based on the spectral analysis of secondary electron emission from moving nanostructures, that is sensitive to displace- ments of sub-atomic amplitude. We demonstrate the detection of nanowire Brownian oscillations of ~10 pm amplitude and hyper- spectral mapping of stimulated oscillations of setae on the body of a common flea. The technique opens a range of opportunities for the study of dynamic processes in materials science, nanotechnology and biology.
Detection of sub-atomic movement in nanostructures
T. Liu, J. Y. Ou*, K. F. MacDonald, and N. I. Zheludev
Nanoscale Advances (2021) doi: 10.1039/d0na01068e – pdf