Making a New Ruler for the Nanoworld

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Science  22 Dec 1995:
Vol. 270, Issue 5244, pp. 1920
DOI: 10.1126/science.270.5244.1920


Gaithersburg, Maryland—Computer chips and other devices are rapidly shrinking to the nanometer (a billionth of a meter) scale, and features on them must fall within exacting tolerances. The microscopes used to determine these tolerances will have to make precise measurements on both the atomic scale and relatively vaster distances. Current scopes cannot. But this week saw the debut of the “molecular measuring machine,” which combines a scanning tunneling microscope with a laser interferometer to measure the distance between points 1 millimeter apart to within 20 to 40 nanometers.

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