The open source Scanning Tunnelling Microscope

Sacha De’Angeli of ChemHacker has posted an update on his open source Scanning Tunnelling Microscope project, which aims to create an Arduino-controlled high-resolution non-optical microscope licensed entirely under the GPLv3.

“I’m nearly done with a complete redesign of the digital and analog electronics, now at version 0.3,” De’Angeli writes on the ChemHacker site. “The new electronics incorporates nearly complete digital control of the STM. I’m working on ways to further increase the control the microchip has over the STM to include gain control of the many op-amps.”

The aim of the project is to design a scanning tunnelling microscope: a high-resolution non-optical device which uses electric current to produce images as detailed as those of individual atoms.

A commercial STM is well out of the reach of your average hacker, costing many thousands of pounds, but De’Angeli hopes to eventually sell his open source creation in kit form as well as providing full details for hackers to build their own implementations via the GNU General Public Licence.

A video of the ChemHackerSTM v0.1 is reproduced below, but De’Angeli warns that it’s not representative of where the project is today and is a “a poor implementation of a good analogue design with a microcontroller slapped to the inputs.

“I’ve since learned that analogue is weird compared to digital,” De’Angeli admits, “and getting those two worlds to talk properly involves a lot more finesse and art than science and equations.”

If you want to be alerted when kits are available, there’s a sign-up sheet here.