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Tools and Instruments for Nanotechnology

Scanning Probe Microscopes_IBM_020721A
[(Scanning Probe Microscopes - IBM) In 1989, scientists turned science fiction into science. By picking up one atom at a time and using a handful to draw the letters I, B, and M on a solid surface, researchers at IBM’s Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California, showed that controlling matter at the atomic scale wasn’t a futuristic dream; it was real, and it was here, and it was now.]

  

 

- Nanotechnology Tools and Instruments 

Nanotechnology has enabled scientists to work in a field so small that even cannot be identified with the help of microscopes, called Nanotechnology. It is also known as nanotech and deals in developing small sized devices or materials between 1 to 100 nanometres in at least one dimension. To make devices so small in size, the application of quantum mechanical effects is very important.

Nanotechnology tools and instruments are the hardware, software and supplies used to measure and manipulate structures on the nanoscale. They include microscopes, probes, lithography systems, manipulation and fabrication systems, software and other accessories. 

Rarely are these instruments unique to nanotechnologies. Most of them were developed in other industries, especially in semiconductors and chipmaking, where submicron manufacturing principles have fueled the communications explosion. Chemistry, physics, biology and materials science also have had a significant impact, and it is in this interdisciplinarity that nanotechnology is unique. 

Tools and instrumentation for nanotechnology include: the technologies, products and applications that are allowing scientists and people alike to do the work of nanotechnology. Every aspect of basic nanoscale science as well as commercial production of nanotechnologies depends on the capacity of instruments and tools to measure, sense, fabricate and manipulate matter at the nanoscale.

- IBM Invented The First Microscope (STM) In 1981

Since the first microscope was invented, researchers and scientists around the world have searched for new ways to stretch their understanding of the microscopic world. In 1981, two IBM researchers, Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer, broke new ground in the science of the very, very small with their invention of the scanning tunneling microscope (STM).

In 1989, scientists turned science fiction into science. By picking up one atom at a time and using a handful to draw the letters I, B, and M on a solid surface, researchers at IBM’s Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California, showed that controlling matter at the atomic scale wasn’t a futuristic dream; it was real, and it was here, and it was now. 

For 22 h over Nov. 9 and 10, 1989, Donald M. Eigler and Erhard K. Schweizer used the ultrasharp tip of a scanning tunneling microscope (STM) to pick up 35 xenon atoms and spell IBM in 5 nm tall letters on a cold nickel surface (shown). By the end of the experiment, the IBM team recorded a microscope image of the masterpiece—published several months later (Nature 1990, DOI: 10.1038/344524a0) - that created a scientific sensation and was displayed in newspapers around the globe.

 

- Manipulation of Matter at the Atomic Level

Scientists can move single atoms with nanometer precision. A scientist can point to atom and move it from here to there. The first group to move atoms was in 1989 and it was a feat accomplished by scientists at IBM. Don Eigler and his colleagues moved atoms using a special tool called a scanning probe microscope. This microscope was invented to ‘see’ atoms and it has a very sharp point like a needle. It ‘sees’ by moving close to surface and sensing the changes in the electrical field around the needle tip. They can’t really ‘see’ the atom or really even know what atom they are ‘seeing’. By moving the needle tip of the scanning probe microscope close to an atom they can drag it along from one place to another. 

What is really important is to cool the sample down to almost absolute zero (-459.67 °F or -273.15 °C) so that the atoms don’t move around too much. Then you also need a really smooth surface so that you can ‘see’ the atoms that you put on it. And finally you need to have just a few atoms, so all of the air inside your microscope is removed by a powerful vacuum. How powerful? There are fewer molecules in the atmosphere inside of the microscope than there are in space. 

 
 

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