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EUROPA - Research and Innovation: What's New in Innovation

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Making AFM probes 20 times more sensitive - Materials Today &

  • Detecting and characterizing single nanoparticles and airborne viruses are of paramount importance for disease control and diagnosis, for environmental monitoring, and for understanding size dependent properties of nanoparticles for developing innovative products. Although single particle and virus detection have been demonstrated in various platforms, single-shot size measurement of each detected particle has remained a significant challenge.  (ref.1)

  • Recently laser physicists have found a way to make atomic-force microscope probes 20 times more sensitive and capable of detecting forces as small and light as the weight of an individual virus.

    The technique, developed by researchers in the Quantum Optics Group of the Research School of Physics and Engineering, hinges on using laser beams to cool a nanowire probe to minus 265 degrees Celsius. 

    The development is thought to be of use in improving the resolution of atomic-force microscopes, which are the state-of-the-art tool for measuring nanoscopic structures and the tiny forces between molecules.(refs 2-3)


    1. Single virus and nanoparticle size spectrometry by whispering-gallery-mode microcavities

    2. Making AFM probes 20 times more sensitive - Materials Today

    3. Australian National University,

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