COOL IMAGES: Feeling the Way

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Science  25 Jun 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5423, pp. 2051
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5423.2051a

This loop is a tiny magnetic feature in a material used to make computer disk read heads that can contribute to magnetic noise. A mere 5 micrometers across—1/20 the width of a hair—the defect formed when tantalum, nickel-iron, and iron-manganese were sputtered in layers onto glass. Researchers at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, probed the structure with a magnetic force microscope, which drags a minuscule tip over a surface to sense its contours and magnetic charge. The red and orange areas are, respectively, positive and negative surfaces.

The picture appears in the “NanoTheater” at the Web site of Digital Instruments, which sells scanning probe microscopes. Contributed by scientists at companies and in academia, the dazzling collection ranges from channel gates on a silicon chip to strands of DNA.

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