Mechanical engineers at Purdue University have proven that the same sort of "deterministic chaos" behind the baffling uncertainties of the stock market and long-term weather conditions also interferes with measurements taken with an atomic-force microscope. The engineers also have shown through a series of experiments precisely how much error is caused by the effects of chaos, information that ultimately could be used to help researchers make more accurate measurements. These three images taken with an atomic-force microscope show the three-dimensional shape, or topology, of a flat sheet of a material called highly oriented pyrolitic graphite. The image on the far left shows how the image should look when the tip is oscillating normally. The two other images are examples of errors created when the tip suddenly starts moving chaotically. (Photograph courtesy of Purdue University School of Mechanical Engineering and Birck Nanotechnology Center)
Mechanical engineers at Purdue University have proven that the same sort of "deterministic chaos" behind the baffling uncertainties of the stock market and long-term weather conditions also interferes with measurements taken with a commonly used scientific instrument.
"The idea that chaos interferes with measurements in atomic-force microscopy has been sort of an urban myth over the years, but we have now proven this to be a fact," said Arvind Raman, an associate professor of mechanical engineering.
The findings will be detailed in a paper to appear online on Jan. 20 in the journal Physical Review Letters. The paper was written by mechanical engineering doctoral student Shuiqing Hu and Raman.
Emil Venere | EurekAlert!
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