Educational Scanning Probe Microscopy at Uniandes

The Microelectronics Center at Universidad de los Andes (CMUA) is a research group interested on the design of systems and integrated circuits and devices at micro and nanometer scales. CMUA is permanently monitoring  the development of electronics in Colombia and wants to incorporate the industry on the development of social impact projects, specially through electronic and intelligent systems design. Its missin is to develop and transfer knowledge and technologies to the academy and industry on the electronic systems and nanotechnology field.

Uniandes logo made by anodic oxidation of
Poly carbonate using a MFP3D AFM
by Asylum Research (3um x 3um)

Nanotechnology is an emerging field expected to impact on every sphere of life, from materials to biology and medicine, every research field has now interest on the science of building working devices, systems and materials by controlling matter at molecular scale. Scanning Probe Microscopes have become the hands and eyes of experimental scientists in this age, and they have allowed the development of nanotechnology to the point it is. They are now a very powerful and necessary tool for education and research laboratories.

Technology development demands for an adequate familiarization and experimentation with microscopy techniques, in the context of graduate and undergraduate science courses around the world. Projects in which low-cost microscopy kits are implemented set up the opportunity for universities to adopt and teach such technology. These kits have simple functions like visualization and characterization, however their capabilities can be extended to different applications down to atomic resolution.

On 2005, CMUA acquired a Scanning Probe Microscope (SPM) construction kit from the Interface physics group at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Germany (SXM Project). A series of undergraduate projects have even since been developed in conditioning and enhancing such kit, and today CMUA is very pleased to present its own version of a SPM kit.

This web site presents the mechanical and electrical implementation of a Scanning Probe Microscope Kit composed by the two most important microscopy techniques used in nanoscience, namely, Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM) and Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM). This low-cost kit has been locally designed and implemented, and it has shown capable of repeatable visualization of structures at micro- and nanoscale. Along with a custom-made software implemented for the correct visualization and characterization, this kit constitutes an edifying first step for students to access and learn nanotechnology.

The construction here presented shows the possibility to "give everybody an opportunity to make his own 'hands on' experience with the Nanoworld", in two of the most recognized techniques for nanoscale surface characterization, at a cost over a hundred times lower than the industrial market.

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