Nanotechnology at IBM Research

IBM marks three decades of nanotechnology leadership. Two milestone IBM inventions—the Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM) in 1981 and the Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) in 1986—provided researchers around the world with the specialized tools they needed to explore the nano-cosm and manipulate materials at the atomic level for the first time.

For more than seven decades, IBM Research has defined the future of information technology with more than 3,000 researchers in 12 labs located across six continents. Scientists from IBM Research have produced six Nobel Laureates, 10 U.S. National Medals of Technology, five U.S. National Medals of Science, six Turing Awards, 19 inductees in the National Academy of Sciences and 20 inductees into the U.S. National Inventors Hall of Fame. For more information about IBM Research, visit

Single-Molecule Switching Could Lead to Molecular Computers

IBM researchers unveiled the first single-molecule switch that can operate flawlessly without disrupting the molecule's outer frame -- a significant step toward building computing elements at the molecular scale that are vastly smaller, faster and use less energy than today's computer chips and memory devices. In addition to switching within a single molecule, the researchers also demonstrated that atoms inside one molecule can be used to switch atoms in an adjacent molecule, representing a rudimentary logic element. This is made possible partly because the molecular framework is not disturbed.

IBM and The Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology Develop New Antimicrobial Hydrogel to Fight Superbugs and Drug-Resistant Biofilms

Researchers from IBM (NYSE: IBM) and the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology revealed today an antimicrobial hydrogel that can break through diseased biofilms and completely eradicate drug-resistant bacteria upon contact. The synthetic hydrogel, which forms spontaneously when heated to body temperature, is the first-ever to be biodegradable, biocompatible and non-toxic, making it an ideal tool to combat serious health hazards facing hospital workers, visitors and patients.

IBM & Warwick Image Highly Reactive Triangular Molecule for the First Time

Appearing today in Nature Nanotechnology, IBM scientists in collaboration with chemists at the University of Warwick have synthesized and characterized a tricky molecule called triangulene, also known as Clar’s hydrocarbon, which was first hypothesized in 1953.

A Boy And His Atom: The World's Smallest Movie

The ability to move single atoms, one of the smallest particles of any element in the universe, is crucial to IBM's research in the field of atomic-scale memory. In 2012, IBM scientists announced the creation of the world's smallest magnetic memory bit, made of just 12 atoms. This breakthrough could transform computing by providing the world with devices that have access to unprecedented levels of data storage. But even nanophysicists need to have a little fun. In that spirit, the scientists moved atoms by using their scanning tunneling microscope to make … a movie, which has been verified by Guinness World Records™ as The World’s Smallest Stop-Motion Film.

Noise Free Labs

Besides the state-of-the-art exploratory cleanroom fabrication facility, six “noise-free” labs have been developed by IBM and are currently used for the most sensitive research, where the cleanroom environment would be too “loud”. These special premises are required for accurate fabrication and characterization at the nanometer scale and beyond. For such research activities, measurements must be screened from building-internal and building-external disturbances.

Researchers Demonstrate Initial Steps toward Commercial Fabrication of Carbon Nanotubes as a Successor to Silicon

IBM (NYSE: IBM) scientists have demonstrated a new approach to carbon nanotechnology that opens up the path for commercial fabrication of dramatically smaller, faster and more powerful computer chips. For the first time, more than ten thousand working transistors made of nano-sized tubes of carbon have been precisely placed and tested in a single chip using standard semiconductor processes. These carbon devices are poised to replace and outperform silicon technology allowing further miniaturization of computing components and leading the way for future microelectronics.

IBM’s Silicon Photonics Technology Ready to Speed up Cloud and Big Data Applications

IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced a significant milestone in the development of silicon photonics technology, which enables silicon chips to use pulses of light instead of electrical signals over wires to move data at rapid speeds and longer distances in future computing systems.

AFM pioneers recognized with Kavli Prize

30 years and 9,000 citations later the inventors of the Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) were recognized today with the with the Kavli Prize in Nanoscience. The Prize is shared between Gerd Binnig, Christoph Gerber and Calvin Quate. Binnig and Gerber were previously with IBM Research – Zurich and they collaborated with Quate from Stanford University, while on sabbatical (Binnig at Stanford, Gerber at IBM Research in San Jose, now Almaden). The three scientists receive the prize “for the invention and realization of atomic force microscopy, a breakthrough in measurement technology and nanosculpting that continues to have a transformative impact on nanoscience and technology.”

IBM scientists invent a thermometer for the nanoscale

Motivated by this challenge and their need to precisely characterize the temperature of new transistor designs to meet the demand of future cognitive computers, scientists in Switzerland from IBM and ETH Zurich have invented a breakthrough technique to measure the temperature of nano- and macro-sized objects. The patent-pending invention is being disclosed for the first time today in the peer-review journal Nature Communications, “Temperature mapping of operating nanoscale devices by scanning probe thermometry.”

IBM Research Breakthrough Paves Way for Post-Silicon Future with Carbon Nanotube Electronics

IBM Research (NYSE: IBM) today announced a major engineering breakthrough that could accelerate carbon nanotubes replacing silicon transistors to power future computing technologies.

Copy this timeline Login to copy this timeline 3d

Contact us

We'd love to hear from you. Please send questions or feedback to the below email addresses.

Before contacting us, you may wish to visit our FAQs page which has lots of useful info on Tiki-Toki.

We can be contacted by email at:

You can also follow us on twitter at

If you are having any problems with Tiki-Toki, please contact us as at:


Edit this timeline

Enter your name and the secret word given to you by the timeline's owner.

3-40 true Name must be at least three characters
3-40 true You need a secret word to edit this timeline

Checking details

Please check details and try again