Welcome to the SNIPE Project @ Penn State

Scanning Nanoscale Interface Probe Ensemble

Nanostructured materials and devices lie at the forefront of science and technology. Nanometer scale features in these systems dictate the importance of quantum mechanical size and interface effects, leading to novel emergent properties. Their potential for broad, cross-disciplinary impact has spurred intense research by investigators from across the life and physical sciences and engineering. Propelled by recent advances in material growth and device fabrication techniques, a fantastic array of nanostructured systems have been developed. Critically needed, however, are new characterization instruments capable of probing the nanoscale properties of these systems.

We propose to develop a novel scanning probe microscope system, specifically designed with the flexibility and capacity to answer a wide range of open questions on new nanostructured materials and devices. It will have a unique combination of characteristics including interchangeable sensors enabling complementary investigations of an array of local electronic and magnetic properties, and multiple sample contacts allowing simultaneous bulk transport measurements. An array of surface preparation and characterization tools will expand the set of materials and devices we can study, and simultaneous optical access will ensure that we can quickly locate and move to important sample features. Broad temperature (50 mK to room temperature) and magnetic field (up to 10 T) ranges will let us probe a variety of phase transitions and phenomena including superconductivity, topological quantum and multiferroic behavior.

We have assembled a team from across diverse academic disciplines and industry, with the expertise and experience required for the design and construction of such a unique, state of the art, versatile instrument. Penn State is a world leader in the development of nanostructured materials and the fabrication of nano-devices. Our team has materials and devices waiting to use the proposed instrument to extend our already well-established track records of performing high impact research. In addition to greatly enhancing our understanding and development of these systems through research done after construction of the instrument, we will also make a significant contribution to the research community during instrument construction by designing and testing technology to enable the use of cryogen free refrigeration in a demanding ultrahigh vacuum, ultralow temperature, ultralow vibration environment.

We believe strongly in the need for better sharing of information and ideas in the instrumentation community. This website is intended to begin that process. If you have any feedback, particularly new instrumentation ideas, suggestions for vendors, etc. please see our contact page.