Since the invention of the atomic force microscope (AFM) in 1986 by Nobel laureate Gerd Binnig, the tool has been employed to advance the science of materials in many ways, from nanopatterning (dip-pen nanolithography) to the imaging of surfaces and nano-objects such as carbon nanotubes, DNA, proteins and cells. In all these applications, the quality and integrity of the tip used to obtain the images or interrogate materials is paramount.
A common problem in atomic force microscopy is the deterioration of the tip apex as surfaces are scanned. To overcome this problem, a team of scientists from Northwestern University and Argonne National Laboratory report the microfabrication of monolithic ultra-nano-crystalline diamond (UNCD) cantilevers with tips exhibiting properties similar to single-crystal diamond. Their results are published in the Aug. 9 issue of Small, a journal dedicated to breakthroughs in nanoscience and engineering (http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/smll.200500028).
Diamond, the hardest known material, is probably the optimal tip material for many applications. In addition to hardness, diamond is stiff, biocompatible and wear resistant. Until now, commercially available diamond AFM tips are either glued to a microcantilever (a very slow and non-scalable manufacturing approach) or made by coating a silicon tip manufactured using conventional microfabrication techniques. Chemical vapor deposition (CVD) techniques for growing thin films of synthetic diamond typically do not produce single-crystal films, in which atoms are all oriented in a regular lattice. UNCD, a material discovered at Argonne in the 1990s, is the closest diamond atomic structure in which the material is organized in very small grains (a few nanometers in size) leading to smooth surfaces easy to mold and shape by microfabrication techniques. The similarity of UNCD to single-crystal diamond and its superiority to silicon, silicon carbide and other micro- and nanoelectromechanical systems (MEMS and NEMS) materials, in the context of strength, toughness and wear performance, has been established.
Enhancing the quantum sensing capabilities of diamond
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The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.
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The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
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