The device I’m building will be significantly cheaper than the $15k a student level machine would cost, and will hopefully reach that range of performance. I’m certainly not expecting to build a device that can have the accuracy to do real research for only a few hundred dollars, but I’m hopeful that we can achieve modest results.
Right now, I’m basing the design on the work of John Alexander, but we (my electrical engineering and software gurus and I) will be extending and improving this design for microprocessor control and trace capture. I’m also contacting some of the recent builders of this class of device to hear their opinions and advice. I really am standing on the shoulders of giants here, and by basing my work on that of a lot of (very) brilliant people, I hope to be able to achieve success.
[Project goals, current, and future state after the jump...]
My intention is to release all hardware designs as open source once the device reaches a fairly stable beta stage of completion.
- I have a decent board design for the main amplifier and feedback board that I created in Eagle and just received from China and recently soldered together
- I have completed the microscope’s head board (amplifies the tunneling current and sends back to the main board.
- I have received all the supplies necessary for manufacturing and mounting STM tips, and I have a little highly oriented pyrolytic graphite sample to look at.
We are deciding on digital to analog and analog to digital conversion designs that will allow the microprocessor board (we’re shooting for using an arduino as the microprocessor) to interface with the feedback/amplification board.
- Build and test the alpha version of the device.
- Write microprocessor software.
- Write interface software.
Feel free to follow along with progress of this project via the STM category.