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Australian Overturns 15 Years of Nano-Science Doctrine 79

Roland Piquepaille writes "Dr John Sader, from the University of Melbourne, discovered a design flaw in a key component of the Atomic Force Microscope (AFM). He 'used established mechanical principles to prove that the popular V-shaped cantilever inadvertently degrades the performance of the instrument, and delivers none of its intended benefits.' This finding may reshape the industry by proposing a single new standard and because the AFM 'has been the instrument of choice for three dimensional measurements at the atomic scale, since its invention in 1986.' Check this column for more details and an AFM diagram or read the original University of Melbourne's article. You also can visit the 'How AFM works' page."
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Australian Overturns 15 Years of Nano-Science Doctrine

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  • by Omikr0n ( 656115 ) on Saturday March 08, 2003 @02:16PM (#5467724)
    Okay I just read the articles and as much as I'd like to understand it, most of it just seems way over my head. But from the minimal information I can understand, it seems that such a flaw shouldn't have been overlooked for this many years. Why did we just discover it now? Perhaps it will become more clear for me after next semester.

    In the mean time, can someone possibly provide examples of any popular theories or situations that this discovery may have thrown off? I just want something more substance than "it changed a lot".

  • by cerulean ( 99519 ) on Saturday March 08, 2003 @02:51PM (#5467893) Homepage
    It's very intriguing that a mathematician has been able to mathematically prove that V-shaped cantilevers are worse for Atomic Force Microscopy.If the proof is so conclusive, however, it would have been nice for them to wait until they'd fabricated some straight-beam cantilever AFM tips, so that they could do a nice thorough study proving that they get better performance using them for actual data.

    (It shouldn't be any more difficult, and it might be a little easier, even, to make straight beam cantilever tips than to make V-shaped ones. This is because the cantilever part of the tip is typically made by some sort of photochemical etching, and a straight beam is certainly a simpler shape to etch.)

    Anyway, even with recent advancements in tip design technology atomic force microscopy is still rather inexact when it comes to getting good results consistently. As much as they try to design good tips, you'll never really know if you'll get good images from it until you mount it in the AFM and actually use it. I've certainly heard of grad students who will find a good tip (through trial and error) and become very protective of it (which is hard to do because they're extremely delicate), just because getting good results from Atomic Force Microscopy can often be tricky business, and a tip that you know is good is a great advantage.
  • Re:Well-known (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bowling Moses ( 591924 ) on Saturday March 08, 2003 @03:36PM (#5468101) Journal
    Blarg. Yeah I got a little confused as to what the nanotube's for. My labmate went back to the old-fashioned straight beam kind--the deal was that they just noticed the old cantilevers worked a little better and went about their experiments thinking it was just an oddity with their equipment. Amazing how close you can be to something important and just...not...quite...get it.

Marvelous! The super-user's going to boot me! What a finely tuned response to the situation!