Thursday, August 16, 2007

Science at home: Build your own nanotechnology lab

Some of the problems with pursuing modern science at home - or in a school - (particularly electronics or the study of matter at the atomic scale) is that the equipment to be able to see the effects of that scale can cost so much!

Well, here are instructions on making two pieces of equipment used in modern science.
First, the oscilloscope (with a nice history of oscilloscopes to boot):

The oscilloscope is still one of the most important measurement tools of the electronic engineer. With the advent of the often very reasonably priced USB scopes, such an instrument is now within reach of every body.

Second, once you have the oscilloscope, you can build your own scanning tunneling microscope (a key tool in nanotechnology) that is able to resolve atoms:
The goal of this project is to build a simple STM that can resolve atoms, with a cost of materials less than $100.00 excluding oscilloscope. My real goal here is to provide a base of information so experimenters and students could build a simple STM. Typical piezo tubes used in tube scanners of commercial scanning probe microscopes cost in the range of $200 - $800 and operate with several hundred volts applied to the scanner. This design uses a unimorph disk scanner to reduce the cost and avoid using any high voltage. The Piezo element is commonly available and this particular one costs $1.80. The control voltages are so low that two 9-volt batteries can power the control electronics.


Ted said...

I post about making a rubberband gun, you post about how to make a scanning tunneling microscope.

I love it!

Ann said...

Nice post! You have said it very well. Keep going.