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Scanning Probe Microscopy Technologies past, present and future

Professor Christoph Gerber, Director for Scientific Communication, National Center of Competence in Research Nanoscale Science, University of Basel

Thursday 12 May 2011, 1300-1430
Lecture Theatre 2, Management School Building

Professor Christoph Gerber Professor Christoph Gerber

Scanning probe microscopy allows for the imaging of materials on the sub-nanometer scale. Invented in 1981, it allowed for the first direct images of atoms to be obtained.

Significant improvements in 1986 resulted in the invention of Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), a technique capable of imaging the atoms of non-conducting materials as well as metals. This dramatically extended the range of materials to which scanning probe microscopy could be applied, ultimately allowing for the imaging of the atoms of biological materials - including DNA.

AFM based atomic visualisation techniques now find utility in a wide range of fields where three dimensional atomic imaging aids the understanding of fundamental processes - fields including biology, medicine, environmental science, geology and the nanoengineering of new materials for energy storage and ICT.

This lecture will describe the history of AFM, its range of application and the recent development and use of novel, cutting edge AFM-based material characterisation techniques.

In particular, using biochemical cantilever/probe array technology, AFM has been developed to explore new frontiers in bioanalysis and biodiagnostics.

This provides new platforms applicable to emerging fields such as system and synthetic biology and bioengineering, with far-reaching implications for evaluating treatment response efficacy in personalized and preventive medicine.

Professor Christoph Gerber

Christoph Gerber was one of the three co-inventors of AFM in 1986. He is Director for Scientific Communication of the NCCR (National Center of Competence in Nanoscale Science), University of Basel, Switzerland, and a founding member of the NCCR. He was formerly a Research Staff Member in Nanoscale Science at the IBM Research Laboratory in Rueschlikon, Switzerland.

The author of 37 patents and more than 150 peer reviewed scientific papers, his current research interests include: AFM-based biosensors; self assembling systems; nanometer scale determination of surface chemical composition using AFM; nanomechanics; and nanorobotics.

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