Sunday, May 23, 2010

STMs, AFMs, and ATMs

Thursday, May 20

Today, we visited the London Centre for Nanotechnology located in Bloomsbury...
Today, we visited the London Centre for Nanotechnology located in Bloomsbury. LCN works with closely with two universities: University College London and Imperial College of London. Their research focuses on three main areas: Healthcare, Information Technology, and Planet Care. More specifically, their research themes include neuroscience, instrument development, cell biology using nanotools, and sensors and diagnostics. The following picture of LCN from because, at the time, the building was under construction and covered with scaffolding.

London Centre for Nanotechnology front facade

We were first given an introductory lecture and then a lecture from professor Steve Bramwell. The latter was a presentation about magnetic monopoles and magnetricity in spin ice. Magnets naturally occur as dipoles, but spin ice can be made to behave like monopoles. Spin ice is a compound that magnetically behaves the same way as water does electrically.

Dr. Joseph Ndieyira gave a lecture about microcantilever array sensors, which could measure characteristics of micro-scale biological organisms or substances such as viruses. In layman's terms, biological materials were placed onto small cantilevers using microfluidics, and the cantilever's deflection or resonant frequency was measured. Numerous variables could cause a deflection in the cantilever, depending on what property the scientists wanted to measure.

After the lectures, we were split up and given tours of three facilities: The clean room, the Nano-bio lab, and the AFM/STM lab. The clean room housed many of the same instruments as those used in the Nanofabrication Center (NFC) at the University of Minnesota. The nano-bio lab housed the microcantilever array sensors. A ten minute walk to University College London brought us to the final lab, which housed the atomic force microscopes (AFM) and the scanning tunneling microscopes (STM). UCL is often called London's "Global" university because it was the first in the UK to accept students of any religion or sex.

Professor Sobelman and students in a clean room

ATM stands for automated teller machine, a high-tech device that dispenses cash with a few presses of a button. ATMs were never discussed at UCL, but they represent the nightly activities that won't be discussed here.

A high-tech ATM device