What do we mean by ‘touch’?
When we think about the atomic and nano a scale, ‘touch’ is not such a straightforward concept as might initially be thought. In fact, even ‘touch’ in our everyday world comes down, of course, to interactions at the nano scale – atoms touching atoms. How would the world feel to us if our fingertips were really small? Imagine that they are only a micrometer in size. We can investigate this by using focused beams of light to manipulate micrometer-sized particles in three dimensions. The light beams are generated by holographic optical tweezers (HOT), and the forces that these particles experience can be measured simultaneously. We have built a Dynamic Holographic Assembler to manipulate and image the microscopic world in 3D.
What would it feel like to touch matter with a fingertip that is the size of an atom or even smaller? The atomic force microscope (AFM) builds up a three-dimensional picture of the nano scale world through touching and ‘feeling’ a surface with an atomically sharp tip. In this way, it can record images of matter that show atoms and molecules, and in some cases, AFM can even ‘feel’ inside an atom. The invention of the atomic force microscope (AFM) triggered the exponential growth in nano science and technology.
Professor Miles studies: Atomic force microscopy, scanning tunnelling microscopy, scanning near-field optical microscopy, high-speed AFM, high-speed non-contact AFM, holographic opticla tweezer, optical AFM, polymers, biomolecules
What the Royal Society says