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ERIC Number: EJ1082764
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Dec
Pages: 3
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0031-921X
A Computer-Controlled Classroom Model of an Atomic Force Microscope
Engstrom, Tyler A.; Johnson, Matthew M.; Eklund, Peter C.; Russin, Timothy J.
Physics Teacher, v53 n9 p536-538 Dec 2015
The concept of "seeing by feeling" as a way to circumvent limitations on sight is universal on the macroscopic scale--reading Braille, feeling one's way around a dark room, etc. The development of the atomic force microscope (AFM) in 1986 extended this concept to imaging in the nanoscale. While there are classroom demonstrations that use a tactile probe to map the topography or some other property of a sample, the rastering of the probe over the sample is manually controlled, which is both tedious and potentially inaccurate. Other groups have used simulation or tele-operation of an AFM probe. In this paper we describe a teaching AFM with complete computer control to map out topographic and magnetic properties of a "crystal" consisting of twodimensional arrays of spherical marble "atoms." Our AFM is well suited for lessons on the "Big Ideas of Nanoscale" such as tools and instrumentation, as well as a pre-teaching activity for groups with remote access AFM or mobile AFM. The principle of operation of our classroom AFM is the same as that of a real AFM, excepting the nature of the force between sample and probe.
American Association of Physics Teachers. One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740. Tel: 301-209-3300; Fax: 301-209-0845; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: EEC1160483