By Cyrus C. M. Mody
The scanning tunneling microscope (STM) has been hailed because the “key permitting discovery for nanotechnology,” the catalyst for a systematic box that draws approximately $20 billion in investment every year. In Instrumental neighborhood, Cyrus Mody argues that this technology-centric view doesn't clarify how those microscopes helped to release nanotechnology—and fails to recognize the corporation of the microscopists in making the STM and its versions severely vital instruments. Mody tells the tale of the discovery, unfold, and commercialization of scanning probe microscopy by way of the networked constructions of collaboration and pageant that got here into being inside a various, colourful, and infrequently fractious group of researchers. by way of forming a neighborhood, he argues, those researchers have been in a position to innovate speedily, proportion the microscopes with quite a lot of clients, and generate status (including the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physics) and revenue (as the expertise stumbled on functions in industry).
Mody exhibits that either the expertise of probe microscopy and the group version provided via the probe microscopists contributed to the improvement of political and medical help for nanotechnology and the worldwide investment tasks that undefined. during his account, Mody charts the shifts in U.S. technology coverage over the past 40 years—from the decline in federal uncomplicated learn investment within the Nineteen Seventies throughout the upward push in educational patenting within the Nineteen Eighties to the emergence of nanotechnology discourse within the 1990s—that have led to today’s expanding emphasis at the commercialization of educational study.
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Extra info for Instrumental Community: Probe Microscopy and the Path to Nanotechnology
One discipline, surface science, was particularly influential in the invention of a probe-microscopy community. Yet the influence of surface science was mediated through a particular kind of organization: the large research laboratory. This chapter focuses on two organizations that were at the center of both surface science and early STM: the US National Bureau of Standards (NBS) and IBM’s research laboratory in Rüschlikon, Switzerland (better known as IBM Zurich). More than ten years before the STM was invented at IBM, researchers at the NBS constructed an instrument, called the Topografiner, that contained 28 Chapter 2 most of the elements of a tunneling microscope.
The swales running from the upper right to the lower left are the rulings of the grating. The lines running from left to right are the sequence of two-dimensional profiles measured by the Topografiner’s emitter. Reprinted, with permission, from Russell Young, John Ward, and Fredric Scire, “The Topografiner: An Instrument for Measuring Surface Microtopography,” Review of Scientific Instruments 43 (1972): 999–1011 (copyright 1972 American Institute of Physics). 38 Chapter 2 the sample; in this form, the feedback current controls the height of the probe so that it doesn’t crash into the surface.
I have therefore contextualized interview data with a variety of documentary sources—published articles, websites, advertisements, application notes, photocopies of lab notebooks, and so on. Probe microscopy is young enough that many documents are now available in electronic form, but old enough that important information has migrated into publicly accessible archival collections. In some cases, people I interviewed gave me documents that were not publicly available. Some interviewees also stayed in touch with me and offered their feedback on the interpretations I was beginning to form.