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Fundamental Concepts

(Salem, Massachusetts - ROC (Taiwan) Student Association of MIT)


- Overview

[National Nanotechnology Initiative]: Nanoscience and nanotechnology involve the ability to see and to control individual atoms and molecules. But something as small as an atom is impossible to see with the naked eye. In fact, it’s impossible to see with the microscopes typically used in a high school science classes. The microscopes needed to see things at the nanoscale were invented relatively recently - about 30 years ago. Once scientists had the right tools, such as the scanning tunneling microscope (STM) and the atomic force microscope (AFM), the age of nanotechnology was born. 

Although modern nanoscience and nanotechnology are quite new, nanoscale materials were used for centuries. Alternate-sized gold and silver particles created colors in the stained glass windows of medieval churches hundreds of years ago. The artists back then just didn’t know that the process they used to create these beautiful works of art actually led to changes in the composition of the materials they were working with. 

Today's scientists and engineers are finding a wide variety of ways to deliberately make materials at the nanoscale to take advantage of their enhanced properties such as higher strength, lighter weight, increased control of light spectrum, and greater chemical reactivity than their larger-scale counterparts.


- Scanning Tunneling Microscope (SPM)

Scanning tunneling microscope (SPM), a scientific instrument that can make images of nanoscale details on an electrically conductive surface by moving a sharp metal probe very close to that surface, passing a low-voltage electric current across it, and measuring tiny fluctuations in the current as the probe is scanned across the surface.

- Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM)

Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) - A scientific instrument that can generate images of nanoscale details on a physical surface by scanning a tiny, flexible ceramic or semiconductor probe just above the surface - where it will be attracted or repelled slightly by features on the surface, and the deflection can be detected with the laser. 

AFM, a key tool for nanotechnology, one of the most important acronyms in nanotechnology. This instrument has become the most widely used tool for imaging, measuring and manipulating matter at the nanoscale and in turn has inspired a variety of other scanning probe techniques.  

The atomic force microscopy (AFM) is one kind of scanning probe microscopes (SPM). SPMs are designed to measure local properties, such as height, friction, magnetism, with a probe. To acquire an image, the SPM raster-scans the probe over a small area of the sample, measuring the local property simultaneously.

- How AFM Works

[Park Systems]: Atomic force microscopy is arguably the most versatile and powerful microscopy technology for studying samples at nanoscale. It is versatile because an atomic force microscope can not only image in three-dimensional topography, but it also provides various types of surface measurements to the needs of scientists and engineers. It is powerful because an AFM can generate images at atomic resolution with angstrom scale resolution height information, with minimum sample preparation.  

So, how does an AFM work? In this page, we introduce you to the principles of an AFM with an easy to understand video animations. please refer to [Park Systems] for more details.


 [More to come ...]

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