The smallest, simplest, most affordable
Atomic Force Microscope.
The nGauge Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) is among the highest resolution microscopes in the world. All of the essential components of a conventional AFM have been integrated into a tiny 1x1mm silicon chip that is capable of imaging nanometer-scale features like those of DNA, proteins, and transistors. This "microscopic microscope" is small, easy to use, and costs about 100x less than many high-end AFMs.
Integrated Circuit Scanning Probe Microscopes (ICSPI Corp) has been developing this technology at the University of Waterloo, with DARPA support, for nearly 10 years. Co-founders Dr. Neil Sarkar and Prof. Raafat Mansour both have extensive backgrounds in the fields of microelectronics and microsystems. The company has taken advantage of the University of Waterloo's unique IP policy which grants ownership of all IP to the inventors.
The technology used to fabricate the nGauge AFM chips is known as Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor Microelectromechanical Systems (CMOS MEMS). CMOS is the most advanced manufacturing process in the world, and is used to fabricate almost all computer chips these days. A few extra processing steps can be applied to the CMOS chips to "release" mechanical structures (MEMS) that can actuate and sense with high precision. An AFM works a lot like a record player by scanning a very sharp tip over a sample surface, measuring the tip deflection, and generating a 3D image of the surface. The nGauge AFM integrates a 3-axis MEMS scanner, a sharp tip, and a sensor to measure tip-sample interactions, all on the same chip.
The nGauge AFM will make nanoscale science accessible to everyone, enabling new discoveries in all fields of nanotechnology.