h+ Magazine

Summer 2009

Issue link: http://cp.revolio.com/i/1161

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Page 13 of 83

MichaeL aniSSiMOV FaST BLaSTS reaL-TIme aTOm manIPULaTIOn USInG a HIGH-SPeeD aFm For over twenty years, investigators at the nanoscale have been using AFms (atomic force microscopes) to image individual atoms and push them into stable confi gurations on a smooth surface. Now, for the fi rst time, researchers at the Nanophysics and soft matter Group at the university of Bristol have built an AFm that operates so quickly that nanofabrication can be conducted in real time. This could be an important step to future technologies based on mass nanofabrication. The group's improved AFm works by selectively oxidizing silicon to produce a desired pattern. Instead of conventional AFm tips, which move at about 1-100 µm/s — not much faster than the speed of a crawling amoeba — this new AFm can operate at speeds in excess of 1 cm/s, more than 10,000 times faster. The penalty for such rapid operation is a faster degradation rate for the AFm tip, which is made more durable by covering it with a platinum coating. Though the AFm has proven its ability to avoid damaging the nanostructures it is working on, with no damage observed after more than 250 pass-overs, it did lose manufacturing resolution over the course of several experiments.

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