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Equipment and Methodology for Multi-Dimensional Scanning Probe Microscopy

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Materials' characterisation with one scan

EU-funded scientists have produced a groundbreaking multi-functional scanning probe microscope capable of measuring atomic-level conformational changes, energy states and forces simultaneously.

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Characterising the surfaces of materials where they interact with each other leads to detailed knowledge of chemical, electrical and mechanical properties. This in turn enables the knowledge-based design of innovative materials, devices and components. scanning probe microscopy (SPM) can now generate images of atomic resolution and even record molecular conformational changes. By varying the bias voltage between the probe tip and the sample, in a technique known as scanning tunnelling spectroscopy (STS) information can be obtained about detailed electronic states and energy spectra. scientists initiated the EU-funded project 'Equipment and methodology for multi-dimensional scanning probe microscopy' (MDSPM) to add yet another dimension to the powerful STS technique. MDSPM focused on the development of a new ultra-high vacuum (UHV), low-temperature multidimensional scanning probe microscope (MDSPM) with two-dimensional (2D) force and energy dissipation measurement. specifically, sophisticated instrumentation extends STS to enable the measurement of force and energy dissipation associated with any kind of random force fluctuation, such as vibrating molecules or atoms, with unprecedented sensitivity. The technical complexity of the project brought numerous challenges and, despite lack of commercial readiness, resulted in the design and manufacture of two highly modular MDSPM instruments at partner laboratories which meet all functional requirements outlined in the objectives. the potential of the instrumentation to deliver groundbreaking scientific results currently not possible with conventional scanning force microscopy (SFM) has already spawned new research projects relying on the technology. Intel has also initiated an industrial contract with the team that will utilise MDSPM instrumentation. MDSPM has delivered an extremely powerful multidimensional scanning probe microscope that promises to revolutionise the investigation of materials and their properties. Obtaining detailed knowledge of atomic and molecular configurations, energy and electron states, and force fields simultaneously and with high precision using a single instrument may well be the next revolution in SPM.

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