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Geek Toys #2: Build your own STM

May 05, 20061 min
Data Center

Maybe twenty five years ago I read a couple of articles in Scientific American’s Amateur Scientist column (alas, not part of the magazine any longer) that described how to build a mass spectorgraph and a gas chromatograph. I was absolutely fascinated by these two projects but I never got around to building either. Then today I stumbled across another amazing project: Build Your Own Scanning Tunnelling Microscope!

The plans for this device are published free of charge on a Web site belonging to the Interface Physics Group of the University of Münster in Germany. A team headed by a Prof. Fuchs created the design and the site includes images taken using one of the amateur STMs. Outstanding! You can buy all of the components you need direct from the group for 889,65€ (international pricing). Will I get around to building one of these? Unfortunately not in the near future. The big project I have waiting in the wings is a hovercraft . Now all I need to find is the time …


Mark Gibbs is an author, journalist, and man of mystery. His writing for Network World is widely considered to be vastly underpaid. For more than 30 years, Gibbs has consulted, lectured, and authored numerous articles and books about networking, information technology, and the social and political issues surrounding them. His complete bio can be found at

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