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w 28 | In Images cnrs I international magazine Physics The new nanoscience building at the Institut Néel in Grenoble is a unique facility in Europe. Fully isolated from external disturbances, it should open new perspectives in quantum information, crystallogenesis, microscopy, and nanofabrication. by aurÉlie sobocinski Behind an ordinary façade, the Institut Néel’s new building in Grenoble conceals a vast scientific venture: a voyage into the infinitesimally small. The facility, which was inaugurated in April 2013, opens up a new era in the history of the Institut Néel, a CNRS laboratory for fundamental research in condensed matter physics with nanosciences as a flagship discipline. The building is fully shielded and isolated from external perturbations. This provides optimal conditions for ultrasensitive experiments involving the manipulation of matter on the atomic scale (less than a millionth of a millimeter) in quantum information, microscopy, optics, and nanofabrication. The first experiments are already up and running. They focus on graphene, a form of carbon made up of a single layer of atoms with very promising properties for electronics, optics, and mechanics. “We use a microscope whose tip scans the surface of the material at a distance of less than a nanometer,” explains Alain Schuhl, the institute’s director. “It’s a bit like taking an upside-down Eiffel Tower and placing its tip on a small coin.” The crystal growth facilities are located close by. “Any vibrations that 01 The Institut Néel’s new building, a project initiated in 2007, was inaugurated on April 12, 2013. It has a total surface area of 2600 m2. © in stit ut néel 02 03 01 A Temple for Nanosciences


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