Scanning tunneling microscopy is a modern technique which creates images of atoms in a material surface, the invention of which won a 1986 Nobel Prize in Physics. The importance of a scanning tunneling microscope (STM) branches across many industries and fields of study, but a cost on the order of $100,000 makes it impractical for undergraduate lab courses. Development of an inexpensive STM gives chemistry, physics, materials engineering, and electrical engineering students at “Learn by Doing” schools hands-on experience with modern imaging techniques, inspiring them and further preparing them for a successful career. This project develops the crucial first step in creating an open-source STM for use in classrooms and research activities. In this step, the team creates a working apparatus that measures the quantum tunneling current from a piece of graphite to a tungsten tip and plots it as a function of scan head voltage on an oscilloscope. All plans, procedures, schematics, and drawings will be available on polytatom.com.
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