Probe cantilever knows its place

TOKYO—Seiko Instruments has developed a low-cost desktop scanning-probe microscope...

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TOKYO—Seiko Instruments has developed a low-cost desktop scanning-probe microscope that is easier to control than conventional probe microscopes (see figure). The increasing intensity of nanotechnology research has produced an expansion in applications and increase in demand for scanning-probe microscopes, which can take nanometer-level measurements of samples. Paradoxically, conventional scanning-probe microscopes have become increasingly costly and difficult to operate because of the demand for higher functionality, including the analysis of object characteristics.

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A scanning-probe microscope contains a cantilever that can sense its own position, eliminating complicated setup when cantilevers are swapped.
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The Seiko microscope uses a highly reliable voice-coil motor and, thanks to the optimization of the controlling parts, has an improved reproducibility. The resolution in the z direction is 0.3 nm, with a sample diameter of 50 mm and thickness of 8.5 mm. The scanner is 211 × 211 × 210 mm in size and weighs 8.4 kg. The microscope's cantilever can discern its own position, so laser-beam adjustments are not required when the cantilever is exchanged. This property leads to a great reduction in time during exchanges of cantilevers, as well as an improvement in control.

Courtesy O plus E magazine, Tokyo

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