A brand new AFM (atomic force microscope) utilizes nanowires to produce minute sensors. Different from the standard size AFM, this scope can measure both direction and size of forces through the use of a nanowire sensor. The University of Basel and EPF Lausanne Physicists have thoroughly explained the resulting data in the most recent publication of Nature Nanotechnology. These nanowires are microscopic filamentary crystals derived from a variety of materials which build up molecule by molecule. They are currently being thoroughly studied and researched by teams of scientists around the globe due to their extraordinary properties.
These wires usually contain a diameter of about one hundred nanometers. This means they possess around one thousandth the thickness of a hair follicle. Because of their miniscule dimensions, the wire has an extremely large surface compared to its volume. Due to this fact, their tiny mass and perfect crystal grid makes them highly attractive to various nanometer scaled sensing apps. This includes charge and pressure sensors as well as sensors within chemical and biological samples.
The Department of Physics within the University of Basel and The Swiss Nanoscience Institute's team utilizing Argovia Professor Martino Poggio have now exhibited that these nanowires can be utilized in atomic force microscopes as force sensors. This discovery is based upon the nanowires exceptional mechanical properties. The nanowires are able to vibrate two perpendicular axes while maintaining equal frequency. As the wires are integrated within an AFM, researchers are able to apply different forces to these perpendicular vibrations and measure each change and reaction. In short, they use these nanowires like small mechanical compasses in order to calculate both size and direction of a surrounding force.
Basel scientist explain how they were able to image a patterned surface sample utilizing the nanowire sensor. The EPF Lausanne scientist grew the nanowires themselves and together the teams of scientist mapped out the 2D force field that rises above the surface sample utilizing the nanowire as a compass. In order to back up the proof their discovery the scientists also mapped out an additional force field through the use of small electrodes. Their biggest technical challenge was the realization of the need for an apparatus that was able to scan a nanowire above a surface while its monitor vibrated within 2 perpendicular directions. Due to this study the scientists have been able to reveal this new form of AFM that can further expand countless applications.