Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Microscopic fountain pen adds new functionality to AFM microscopy

Date:
January 15, 2014
Source:
University of Twente
Summary:
The Atomic Force Microscope (AFM), which uses a fine-tipped probe to scan surfaces at the atomic scale, will soon be augmented with a chemical sensor. This involves the use of a hollow AFM cantilever, through which a liquid - in this case mercury - is passed under pressure. The droplet of mercury at the tip acts as a sensor.

The hollow cantilever of an AFM (tip is not shown now) is filled with mercury. The drop at the end is a chemical sensor.
Credit: University of Twente

The Atomic Force Microscope (AFM), which uses a fine-tipped probe to scan surfaces at the atomic scale, will soon be augmented with a chemical sensor. This involves the use of a hollow AFM cantilever, through which a liquid -- in this case mercury -- is passed under pressure. The droplet of mercury at the tip acts as a sensor. This microscopic fountain pen was developed by researchers at the University of Twente's MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology.

An AFM's cantilever has a fine tip that can be used to map surfaces at the nanoscale. The movements of the tip are monitored using laser light reflected from the cantilever. If you could manufacture a hollow cantilever and pass a liquid through it, as happens in a fountain pen, then you could kill two birds with one stone. In addition to mapping surfaces, you could also use it to make highly localized measurements of the concentration of specific chemicals. This concept was the brainchild of ​​Dr Peter Schφn, a researcher who leads the "Enabling Technologies" Strategic Research Orientation at MESA+

Mercury

The liquid selected was mercury, as it has the ideal properties for this purpose, such as an extremely clean surface. The researchers have created a cantilever with a microscopic tube running through it. The tube's lining has special mechanical properties, to contain the mercury as it is pumped through under high pressure (6 bar). Using this system, it has proved possible to create a perfect droplet at the tip. The droplet itself is the sensor, moreover it can easily be replaced in situ by a new sensor -- the next droplet. It is also important that electrical current is only conducted through the mercury in the microscopic tube and not via parts of the cantilever, so as not to affect the measurement result. This goal, too, was successfully achieved.

Dual function

A sensor of such exquisite sensitivity can be used to measure concentrations of specific chemicals on biomolecules and biomembranes, for example. It can also be used in combination with AFM, to make highly localized measurements of corrosion while at the same time gathering other information about the surface in question. This makes for a particularly powerful combination of measurement methods.

Details of the "fountain pen's" mechanism of action were recently published in Analytical Chemistry. The researchers are now focusing on ways of combining this technique with an AFM tip. They are also developing a technique for efficiently releasing the used mercury droplet to make way for a "clean" sensor.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Twente. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Twente. "Microscopic fountain pen adds new functionality to AFM microscopy." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140115075406.htm>.
University of Twente. (2014, January 15). Microscopic fountain pen adds new functionality to AFM microscopy. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140115075406.htm
University of Twente. "Microscopic fountain pen adds new functionality to AFM microscopy." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140115075406.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

AFP (July 25, 2014) — Europe's highest train, the little train of Artouste in the French Pyrenees, celebrates its 80th birthday. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

AP (July 24, 2014) — TSA administrator, John Pistole's took part in the Aspen Security Forum 2014, where he answered questions on lifting of the ban on flights into Israel's Tel Aviv airport and whether politics played a role in lifting the ban. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

AP (July 24, 2014) — Mobile phone companies and communities across the country are going to new lengths to disguise those unsightly cellphone towers. From a church bell tower to a flagpole, even a pencil, some towers are trying to make a point. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

TheStreet (July 23, 2014) — When The Deal's Amanda Levin exclusively reported that Gas Natural had been talking to potential suitors, the Ohio company responded with a flat denial, claiming its board had not talked to anyone about a possible sale. Lo and behold, Canadian utility Algonquin Power and Utilities not only had approached the company, but it did it three times. Its last offer was for $13 per share as Gas Natural's was trading at a 60-day moving average of about $12.50 per share. Now Algonquin, which has a 4.9% stake in Gas Natural, has taken its case to shareholders, calling on them to back its proposals or, possibly, a change in the target's board. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins