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13694271 Nanotechnology

13694271 Nanotechnology

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Published by: unique22 on Oct 14, 2009
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04/25/2013

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Scanningtunnelingmicroscope(STM)usesaprobe(thetip)tomove
over the surface of the material being studied.
The tip of the probe, usually composed of tungsten or platinum, is
extremely sharp. The tip, which consists of a single atom, is attached to
cantilever that looks like a toy diving board with a sharp tip under one
end of it.

The tip slowly scans across the surface at a distance of only an atom’s
diameter. The tip is raised and lowered in order to keep the signal con-
stantandmaintainthedistance.Asmallforcemeasurestheattractionor
repulsionbetweenthetipandthesurfaceofthesampleduringscanning.
These forces, causing an up and down movement of the cantilever, are
monitored by a laser beam reflecting off the cantilever surface. Record-
ing the up and down movement of the tip makes it possible to study
the structure of the surface sample. A profile of the wiggled surface is
created, and from that a computer-generated image is produced. The
finalimageisacontourmapofthesurfaceshowingtrenchesandvalleys.
The STM works best with conducting materials, but does not work well
with insulators such as rubber.
The STM has many uses and applications in nanotechnology. The
STM can image materials from DNA samples and other biological

Did you know?

TheScanningTunnelingMicroscope(STM)isvery
sensitivetovibrations.Justsomeonesneezinginthe
same room, can jam the microscope’s tip into the
sample and damage the experiment.

molecules. Another exam-
ple is that STM has been
used to study the surface
of operating battery elec-
trodes through which elec-
tricity enters or leaves.

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