Charlotte, North Carolina
June 20, 1999
June 20, 1999
June 23, 1999
4.169.1 - 4.169.6
Design of an Undergraduate Atomic Force Microscopy Laboratory for a Materials Science Lecture Course
Michael A. Hawkins and Susan M. Lord University of San Diego
The availability of relatively low cost, robust, and easy to use atomic force microscopes (AFMs) makes it possible to introduce undergraduates to this exciting materials characterization technique. The University of San Diego’s (USD) Engineering Department includes an introductory junior-level Materials Science course required for all engineering majors. In an effort to provide students with a hands-on learning experience in materials characterization, a one-time one-hour lab was introduced in Fall 1998. This lab was designed by an undergraduate electrical engineering student at USD during a summer research experience. The student chose to combine the topic of IC development with microscopy with an emphasis on the AFM. The laboratory was divided into three stations where students examined the same three samples by eye, using an optical microscope, and using the AFM. This allows students to develop an understanding of Atomic Force Microscopy and an appreciation for the viewing power that AFMs provide. Despite some logistical problems, the lab was successful in introducing students to hands-on materials characterization using a modern tool.
Since its creation in the 1980s [1,2] the Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) has become an important modern materials characterization tool. It is used in fields as diverse as the examination of DNA to the failure analysis and defect inspection of Integrated Circuit (IC) components. The increasing importance of this characterization technique has made it important to familiarize undergraduate engineering students with the AFM. However, obstacles such as cost and specialized training required before operating the instrument have hindered the access of undergraduates to AFMs. The availability of relatively low cost, robust, and easy to use AFMs  overcomes these equipment obstacles. The next challenge is to develop suitable curriculum using the AFM. Curriculum can vary greatly for this tool which is used in a variety of disciplines from biology to chemistry to physics to materials science to electrical engineering. Currently, hands-on undergraduate experience with Atomic Force Microscopy is most commonly found in upper level classes with laboratories or in independent research.
Established in 1986, the young engineering program at the University of San Diego (USD) includes electrical engineering and industrial and systems engineering. The curriculum includes one introductory junior-level Materials Science course required for all engineering majors. With a typical enrollment of 15 students, this course includes three one-hour lectures per week and no laboratory. In the summer of 1998 with funding from the University and the National Science Foundation (NSF) , an Optoelectronics Laboratory including one Burleigh Instruments, Inc.
Hawkins, M. A., & Lord, S. M. (1999, June), Design Of An Undergraduate Atomic Force Microscopy Laboratory For A Materials Science Lecture Course Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina. https://peer.asee.org/7555
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