Engineers Converting Atomic Force Microscopes into Molecular Milling Machines

Engineering researchers are at the vanguard of efforts to remake the “atomic force microscope” (AFM), an instrument typically used to obtain molecular scale images, into a tool to build precisely aligned structures at those tiny dimensions. “I think this will be a very good tool for research in the laboratory because we should have very good control and get results relatively easily,” said Stefan Zauscher, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science who brought his expertise in designing and using atomic force microscopes to Duke.

Australian overturns 15 years of nano-science doctrine

An Australian mathematician has thrown 15 years of accepted scientific practice out the window by discovering a design flaw in a key component of the Atomic Force Microscope. His finding will force a rethink into the design and use of an instrument that has become a cornerstone of scientific measurement and analysis. Dr John Sader, at University of Melbourne’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics, and Particulate Fluids Processing Centre, used established mechanical principles to prove that the popular V-shaped cantilever inadvertently degrades the performance of the instrument, and delivers none of its intended benefits.