A scanning tunneling microscope (STM) is extremely delicate. A measuring needle with an atomically sharp apex is positioned just a few angstroms away from a sample. This is roughly the diameter of an atom, so the vibrations between the needle and the sample have to be extremely small. As a reference, the tip of Mount Everest would be allowed to vibrate less than the size of a bacterium. Additionally, [Ph.D candidate Irene] Battisti aimed to make a cryogenic microscope with a temperature around 4 Kelvin – almost absolute zero. These ultra-low temperatures are needed for spectroscopic visualization of the electronic properties of materials down to the atomic scale. “This greatly complicates things, as the mechanics of regular STMs are not suited for such low temperatures,” Battisti explains. Therefore, she worked with sapphire. “This material is not only expensive, but its toughness also makes it very difficult to process,” she says.
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Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.