Researchers at The University of Texas at Dallas have created an atomic force microscope on a chip, dramatically shrinking the size — and, hopefully, the price tag — of a high-tech device commonly used to characterize material properties.
“A standard atomic force microscope is a large, bulky instrument, with multiple control loops, electronics and amplifiers,” said Dr. Reza Moheimani
, professor of mechanical engineering at UT Dallas. “We have managed to miniaturize all of the electromechanical components down onto a single small chip.”
Dr. Reza Moheimani
, an expert in nanotechnology, has joined the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science
at UT Dallas this fall as the James Von Ehr Distinguished Chair in Science and Technology and Professor of Mechanical Engineering.
Moheimani will provide leadership to identify opportunities and challenges for micro- and nano-manufacturing research at a time of remarkable progress in nanotechnology.
Ever since the 1980s, when Gerd Binnig of IBM first heard that “beautiful noise
” made by the tip of the first scanning tunneling microscope
(STM) dragging across the surface of an atom and later developed the atomic force microscope
(AFM), these microscopy tools have been the bedrock of nanotechnology research and development.AFMs have continued to evolve
over the years, and at one time, IBM even looked into using them as the basis of a memory technology in the company’s Millipede project
. Despite all this development, AFMs have remained bulky and expensive devices, costing as much as US $50,000.
Dr. Reza Moheimani
, professor of systems engineering at The University of Texas at Dallas, recently received a $2.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a platform technology for high-throughput, atomically precise manufacturing (APM).
The grant builds on innovative work led by Moheimani in scanning tunneling microscopy. Moheimani, who holds the James Von Ehr Distinguished Chair in Science and Technology, aims to develop enabling technologies for a novel approach to atomically precise manufacturing, which is essentially a form of 3D printing with atomic precision.