Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

NIST’s New Scanning Probe Microscope is Supercool

14.12.2010
The discoveries of superconductivity, the quantum Hall effect and the fractional quantum Hall effect were all the result of measurements made at increasingly lower temperatures.

Now, pushing the regime of the very cold into the very small, a research team from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the University of Maryland, Janis Research Company, Inc., and Seoul National University, has designed and built the most advanced ultra-low temperature scanning probe microscope (ULTSPM) in the world.

Detailed in a recent paper,* the ULTSPM operates at lower temperatures and higher magnetic fields than any other similar microscope, capabilities that enable the device to resolve energy levels separated by as small as 1 millionth of an electron volt. This extraordinary resolution has already resulted in the discovery of new physics (see "Puzzling New Physics from Graphene Quartet's Quantum Harmonies").

"To get these kinds of measurements, you need to combine coarse and extremely fine movement (the mechanical positioning of a probe tip about two atoms' distance from the sample surface), ultra-high vacuum, cryogenics and vibration isolation," says NIST Fellow Joseph Stroscio, one of the device's co-creators. "We designed this instrument to achieve superlative levels of performance, which, in turn, requires achieving nearly the ultimate in environmental control."

The NIST team had to overcome many technical challenges to achieve this level of precision and sensitivity, according to Young Jae Song, a postdoctoral researcher who helped develop the instrument at NIST.

Past designs used mechanical systems to move the probe tip that did not work over a wide range of temperatures. Researchers overcame this by creating piezoelectric actuators that expand with atomic scale precision when voltage is applied.

For vibration control, the group built the ULTSPM facility on top of a separate 110-ton concrete block buffered by six computer-controlled air springs. The ULTSPM, itself, sits on a 6-ton granite table, isolated from the concrete block by another set of computer-controlled air springs.

To achieve the ULTSPM's ultra low operating temperature of 10 millikelvins, the team designed a low noise dilution refrigerator to supplement the device's chilly 3-meter deep, 250-liter liquid helium bath. Because electromagnetic radiation entering through wires and cables can heat up the microscope, the ULTSPM lab is nested inside a separate, electromagnetically shielded room.

In order to ready new samples and probes without disturbing ongoing measurements, experimenters built a vacuum-sealed "railroad" system that they can disconnect from the chamber.

"The ability to create these kinds of experimental conditions opens up a whole new frontier in nanoscale physics," says Robert Celotta, founding director of the NIST Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology. "This instrument has been five years in the making, and we can't help but be excited about all the discoveries waiting to be made."

* Y. Song, A. Otte, V. Shvarts, Z. Zhao, Y. Kuk, S. Blankenship, A. Band, F. Hess and J. Stroscio. A 10 mK scanning probe microscopy facility. Review of Scientific Instruments. In press.

Mark Esser | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.nist.gov

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions
27.04.2017 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

nachricht SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history
26.04.2017 | Southwest Research Institute

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Bare bones: Making bones transparent

27.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions

27.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

From volcano's slope, NASA instrument looks sky high and to the future

27.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>