SBIR Phase I:Atomic force microscopy in-situ in the transmission electron microscope
This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will combine the two primary experimental methods for characterization in nanotechnology, atomic force microscopy (AFM) and in-situ transmission electron microscopy (TEM), into one tool. The AFM allows high-resolution images to be made of the surface topography of a wide variety of different materials. The TEM allows structural and chemical characterization of the internal structure of a material with atomic resolution. This project will allow the incorporation of a fully functional atomic force microscopy (AFM) system into a transmission electron microscopy (TEM) sample holder, thereby permitting the complete range of versatile AFM experimentation to be performed coincident with electron beam microcharacterization. The end result will be an AFM that produces images and data in the same manner as commercial AFMs at comparable levels of quality and accuracy, all combined with simultaneous dynamic imaging of the tip-sample interface as well as the internal structure of the sample via the TEM. This will lead to advances in nanotechnology research and development through improved tools that combine the acquisition of nanoscale images of material structure with site-specific characterization of materials properties for cutting-edge research in the physical, biological and chemical sciences.
The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is rooted in the fact that atomic force and electron microscopy (AFM and EM) are primary tools for characterizing the structure of materials at nanometer length scales. As such, they represent cornerstone techniques in the areas of nanotechnology, condensed matter physics and materials science. Additionally, they are important diagnostic tools for sample characterization and failure analysis in the semiconductor industry, and have wide applicability in biological and medical research. Primary research efforts in these fields revolve around the need to create better experimental methodologies that permit improved understanding of the interrelationship between materials processing and the resulting interplay between microstructure and properties. In-situ experiments enabled by the instrumentation to be developed in this project will find increased use as methods to explore these interrelationships. The current rapid expansion of the field of in-situ EM and the growing EM market (10-15% per year) are additional factors that increase the commercial potential of this product to roughly $1-2 million annually, with an estimated growth rate equal to the broader EM market.
Small Business Information at Submission:
3340 Windolph Lane NW Olympia, WA 98502
Number of Employees: