Friday, January 23, 2015

Scanning Probe Microscopy for the rest of us

Some years ago in an earlier post, I mentioned that somebody had 3d-printed some parts for a scanning probe microscope. The bulk of their work has now been lost to the sands of the Great 404 Desert, but some more recent projects are much more promising.

One is an effort from Academia Sinica in Taiwan, described in detail on, using movements from DVD players. When a project can borrow a mass-market part like this, the result is often surprisingly affordable.

Another project from the Lego2Nano folks in London involves Lego bricks.

Another project from the University of Rhode Island is a Lego model illustrating the mechanical principles of probe microscopy. As far as I can determine this project is not a real microscope.

A company in Luxembourg is selling a Lego SPM kit for 2950 euros. It's possible this is a commercialized version of the Lego2Nano microscope.

Some more advanced efforts include this instructional probe microscope designed at the MIT Media Lab, and this PhD thesis from McGill University in Montreal.