First atomic force microscope, 1986

First atomic force microscope, 1986

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Credit: Christoph Gerber, IBM RESEARCH/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: First atomic force microscope, 1986. The principles behind atomic force microscopy (AFM) were developed from 1982 by scientists working at IBM Research-Zurich, in Switzerland. Also called a scanning force microscope (SFM), this device uses an atomic-sized tip to probe the surface of a material. This allows a three-dimensional map of the surface to be constructed, down to the scale of individual atoms. The co-inventors of the first experimental AFM apparatus were German physicist Gerd Binnig (born 1947), US electrical engineer Calvin Quate (born 1923), and Swiss physicist Christoph Gerber (born 1942). This photograph was first published on 3 March 1986.

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