"Exploring Tools - Special Microscopes" is a hands-on activity in which visitors use a flexible magnet as a model for a scanning probe microscope. They learn that SPMs are an example of a special tool that scientists use to work on the nanoscale.
atomic force microscope
The objective of this lab is to campare the diffraction behavior of light waves between a CD and DVD. CDs and DVDs contain regularly spaced micrometer sized features which can act like a diffraction grating. Using commercial electronic storage devices like CDs and DVDs as gratings rather than commercially produced plan transmission gratings enhances student interest in the activity and also opens up a discussion on the trend of improving storage capacity with the invention of Blu-ray and layered DVDs.
NanoFabulous, an exhibition developed by the University of Maryland, College Park Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) is on display at Port Discovery Children’s Museum in Baltimore, MD. The exhibit is designed to help children and their families understand how scientists and engineers discover and invent new materials from nanoscale building-blocks.
"Exploring Tools - Mystery Shapes" is a hands-on activity in which visitors use their sense of touch to investigate hidden objects. They learn that researchers use special tools, including scanning probe microscopes, to detect and make images of nanoscale objects.
This illustration shows how an Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) is used to image a line of graphene made by a pencil. The scale spans ten orders of magnitude, from the microscope and pencil to the atoms that compose the scanning probe and pencil line. As the viewer zooms into the line, graphite flakes, and eventually a single layer of graphene, become visible. On the AFM, a silicon cantilever with a sharp atomic tip and a laser with a photodiode measure the up and down motion as the probe maps out the graphene sample.