A partnership between the University of Nebraska MRSEC, a Doane College professor and student, and two Nebraska high school teachers is developing an inexpensive scanning tunneling microscope (STM) capable of atomic resolution at room temperature and atmospheric pressures. The team plans to bring this cutting edge technology into high school and college classrooms so that many students can experience the excitement of using this unique tool to observe nanoscale features. The low cost should enable access for many students and encourage them to consider STEM careers. To achieve low cost, thus making the instrument affordable by many high-schools and most colleges, the team has avoided using exotic materials and high-end computers and electronics and has used open-source free software.
Computer model of the low-cost STM, designed by undergraduate students at the University of Nebraska (left image) and its experimental implementation (right image).