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A microscope that can move atoms and draw super high resolution surface images of living cells

17.12.2010
• A*STAR’s IMRE houses some of the world’s leading experts in SPM which was built for the physical sciences but is now widely adopted by biologists
• SPM studies can help engineer novel techniques to reduce friction between surfaces at the molecular level and further miniaturise electronics.

1. The scanning probe microscope (SPM) can manipulate single atoms, move them in a controlled manner and help create novel nano-sized structures with very high precision. It can also map the terrain of living cells and allows biologists to obtain high-resolution images of a cell’s surface. The uniqueness and versatility of the tool is underscored in a new book by local researchers from A*STAR’s Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE). The book covers the practical uses of SPM and Singapore’s significant contribution in this area.

2. The SPM creates extremely accurate high-resolution images of a specimen’s surface by moving an extremely fine metal probe - which is a thousand times less than a hair’s breadth - across the surface, one parallel line at a time. SPM can be used to image materials with atomic-scale resolution and can be used to study living cells in their original liquid-filled environments. SPM has also allowed A*STAR IMRE scientists to create the world’s first controllable molecular gear and secure a place in a €10million European Union (EU) project to build a molecule-sized processor chip.

3. IMRE has more than 10 SPM systems which are used across multiple disciplines, such as physics, chemistry, and biology. Data gained from SPM can be used to benefit the semiconductor industry, advance molecular electronics, control friction between two surfaces at the molecular level and help in further scaling down the size of electronics.

4. “I believe it is a good showcase of Singapore’s concerted effort in translating science into technology”, said Dr Johnson Goh, a Senior Research Engineer with IMRE and one of the editors of the book. “This book covers the latest SPM research in Singapore, with many of the works looking beyond fundamental science to applications in nanoelectronics, biology and scalable nanolithography.” IMRE also conducts annual symposiums on SPM, which involve both academic and industry partners to further promote the industry-relevant advantages of the tool.

5. The book entitled, “Scanning Probe Microscopy”, will be published by World Scientific Publishing and will be internationally available after its launch on 15 December 2010 in conjunction with the 3rd Singapore Scanning Probe Microscopy Symposium (SingSPM 2010).

Encl.
Annex A: A*STAR Corporate Profiles
Annex B: ‘IMRE’ written with individual gold atoms on Au (111), using an SPM

Eugene Low | Research asia research news
Further information:
http://www.a-star.edu.sg/
http://www.researchsea.com

Further reports about: A*STAR IMRE SPM Singapore Singapore’s living cell single atom

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