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Haptic AFM

AFM-HapticUsing an AFM as a nanomanipulation tool involves a scan-manipulate-scan cycle. First, a surface scan is obtained to get an image. Then, the AFM is used as a nanomanipulator to interact with the sample. However, this interaction is done blindly since the image cannot be dynamically updated during the interaction. Finally, a new scan is obtained to see the results of the nanomanipulation.

Haptics can provide a link to the nanoscale world through the sense of touch. We developed a nanomanipulator by interfacing an atomic force microscope (AFM) and a haptic device. The system allows real-time positioning of the AFM tip and provides force feedback to the user based on the sample-tip interactions.


Preliminary experiments with the system indicated that the haptic device provided the necessary sensory feedback during the blind manipulation stage.  Using this system, polystyrene microspheres with 465 nanometer diameter could successfully be repositioned. The AFM images on the left show a string of such particles being split by the user with the help of the interface.

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  • “AFM-based nanomanipulator with haptic interface,” Proceedings of EuroHaptics 2006, July 2006, Paris, France.