Andreas Heinrich leads a research team at IBM's Almaden Research Center focused on exploring atomic-scale structures for possible applications in computation and data-storage.
In January 2012 Heinrich and his team presented the world’s smallest magnetic data storage elements consisting of only 12 magnetic atoms. The work was published in the highest ranking scientific journal, Science, and widely reported in the media, including the New York Times. This work was based on a long-term research effort in Heinrich’s team that started with the exploration of the magnetic properties of individual magnetic atoms on surfaces over ten years ago, highlighting IBM’s commitment to long-term, exploratory research.
Heinrich regularly gives invited lectures and seminars, including plenary lectures at leading international conferences. His main interest is in the exploration of the exciting world of atoms and structures built with atomic-scale precision and in educating the public on the amazing world of nanoscience. Heinrich is both a scientist and an engineer with a keen interest in advancing the experimental capabilities of state-of-the-art research tools. He and his team recently improved the time resolution of scanning tunneling microscopes – the mot advanced tool for atomic-scale studies on surfaces – by a factor of 1 million, another breakthrough paper published in Science in 2010.
Heinrich’s longer-term interest lies in the emerging field of quantum computation, where he hopes to demonstrate the use of single magnetic atoms on surfaces as qubits. Quantum computation has the potential to vastly improve computational performances of computers by taking advantage of the intriguing world of quantum mechanics that governs the properties of atoms.
A native of Germany, Heinrich received his PhD in 1998 from the University of Goettingen in Germany and joined IBM in the same year as a postdoc in Dr. Donald Eigler’s team. Eigler is world-renowned for being the first person to reproducibly move individual atoms on surfaces, a tradition carried on proudly in Heinrich’s research efforts.