Scanning Probe Microscopes
Scanning Probe Microscopes are used to create molecular scale images and can be used to manipulate molecules. Scanning Tunneling Microscopes (STMs) create images using the tunneling current between a tip and a sample when a bias voltage is present. An equilibrium z position is maintained through a feedback loop and a contour plot of the surface is produced. Atomic Force Microscopes (AFMs) in contact mode scan a surface by dragging a tip connected to a cantilever across the atomic surface and creating a topographic image using a constant force. More information can be found in the TopoMetrix SPM guide at http://www.topometrix.com/spmguide/contents.htm.
MEMS (MicroElectroMechanical Systems) are a recent technology that exploits the existing infrastructure for building microelectronics and uses it to create micromechanical devices. These machines operate on the micron scale, but they may lead to nanoscale devices. More information on MEMS can be found at Sandia National Laboratories at http://www.mdl.sandia.gov/scripts/index.asp.
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