Micro Nano STM Contest

Feynman's original (1961) proposal for molecular and atomic scale machines included prizes and competition to "get kids interested in this field." He offered $1000 to the first person to a) reduce the information on the page of a book to an area 1/25,000 smaller in linear scale to be read by an electron microscope, b) construct an electric motor which is only 1/64 inch cube.

The latter prize was presented by Prof. Feynman on November 28, 1960 to William McLellan, who built an electric motor the size of a speck of dust (Gilbert, 1961). The former prize was awarded in 1985 to Tom Newman, a Stanford graduate student who used electron beam lithography to reduce a page from A Tale of Two Cities to 5.9 x 5.9 micrometers and magnified it back using an electron microscope.

Motivated by a desire to accelerate development of STM derived technology as a bridge to more powerful Feynman Machines, Schneiker (1985, 1986) has announced a series of construction challenges and prizes (Hansma and Tersoff, 1987). The challenges are to construct, operate, and publicly demonstrate STMs (including the active/moving part of the mechanical positioning and scanning systems) which can be controlled from the outside, and which (not counting lead-in wires, fiber optics, etc.) are of the following sizes or smaller: (1 mm)3, (100 ^m)3, (10^m)3, (1 ^m)3, (100 nm)s, and (10 nm)3. The imaging capability should be comparable to that indicated by the picture on page 482, vol. 56 of the physics journal Helvetica Physica Acta, 1983. The two imaging tests will be: a) imaging a (10 nm)2 square highly ordered pyrolytic graphite surface, and b) imaging the entire conical surface of another atomically sharp (nonrotating) tungsten STM tip (forming a 60° cone or less), extending 2 nm from that tip. Successive scans must be made to demonstrate that your device doesn't modify these test items. An additional pair of challenges are 1: to use an STM/FM to a) mechanically synthesize 10 molecules of either of the proposed spherical C60 or C180 molecules known as "Buckminster Fullerene" (Schneiker, 1986) and to b) demonstrate conclusively that the synthesis was successful, and 2: to use an STM/FM to a) mechanically synthesize a 10 nm x 10 nm layer of graphite, and to b) demonstrate conclusively that the synthesis was successful. The current prizes being offered, one per category, are $1000, with a maximum of one prize being paid out per year. Potential winners should contact the author. Additional sponsors and prizes are solicited. And as Feynman originally advised:

... have some fun! Lets have a competition between laboratories.

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