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Award Abstract #1229701

MRI: Development of an Open-Source Dual-Probe Atomic Force Microscope

Div Of Civil, Mechanical, & Manufact Inn
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Initial Amendment Date: September 11, 2012
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Latest Amendment Date: September 11, 2012
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Award Number: 1229701
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Award Instrument: Standard Grant
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Program Manager: Joanne D. Culbertson
CMMI Div Of Civil, Mechanical, & Manufact Inn
ENG Directorate For Engineering
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Start Date: September 15, 2012
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End Date: August 31, 2015 (Estimated)
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Awarded Amount to Date: $316,044.00
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Investigator(s): Douglas Bristow dbristow@mst.edu (Principal Investigator)
Jay Switzer (Co-Principal Investigator)
Ming Leu (Co-Principal Investigator)
Ronald Stanley (Co-Principal Investigator)
Jagannathan Sarangapani (Co-Principal Investigator)
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Sponsor: Missouri University of Science and Technology
300 W 12th Street
Rolla, MO 65409-6506 (573)341-4134
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Program Reference Code(s): 037E, 1189, 172E
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Program Element Code(s): 1189


This Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) award supports the development of an open-source, dual-probe atomic force microscope (AFM). The AFM is one of the most versatile tools for nanoscience and nanotechnology with the ability to perform a wide variety of manipulation and measurement tasks. Current state-of-the-art AFMs use one probe, requiring the user to switch between manipulation and measurement modes. The dual-probe AFM will exploit the unique geometry of newly developed probes to place two probe tips head-to-head. Each probe and the substrate will be independently actuated creating unprecedented functionality through simultaneous, localized manipulation and measurement. In manipulation tasks (push, pull, cut, pick, position, orient, assemble, twist, etc), one probe will manipulate while the other probe is imaging. A feedback loop will create high-speed, automated manipulation. In lithography tasks (scratch, dynamic plow, oxidation, dip-pen, etc), a similar arrangement will create precision lithography through real-time process regulation and control. In material characterization tasks, the sample will be mechanically, electrically, magnetically, or thermally excited by one probe and measured by the other creating spatially and temporally resolved material measurements under localized excitation. The open-source architecture of the developed instrument will also serve as a unique experimental platform for advanced control systems research.

The instrument to be developed has the potential for broad impact in a wide range of research and research training activities. The Missouri S&T Materials Research Center (MRC) will make the instrument available to external users. In addition to materials-related experimentation, the instrument will also be available for control-systems research. Modular code will be provided on the MRC webpage which can be modified and submitted for remote testing. Missouri S&T and the MRC are committed to long-term maintenance and upkeep of this instrument. The instrument will also be used in a variety of educational activities including undergraduate and graduate courses.


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Muthukumaran Loganathan and Douglas A. Bristow. "Bi-Harmonic Cantilever Design for Improved Measurement Sensitivity in Tapping-Mode Atomic Force Microscopy," Review of Scientific Instruments, v.85, 2014, p. 043703.

M. Loganathan and D.A. Bristow. "Bi-Harmonic Cantilever Design for Improved Measurement Sensitivity in Tapping-Mode Atomic Force Microscopy," Review of Scientific Instruments, v.85, 2014, p. 043703.


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