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Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Celebrating 40 years of STM and 35 of AFM at the UAB

This meeting commemorates the beginning of the Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM), the Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), and its pioneers in Catalonia. Within the framework of Science Week, this event celebrated 40 years since the inventions of the STM and the 35 years of the AFM. The event took place on Tuesday, 16 November, at the UAB Science Faculty and was co-organized by the Barcelona Nanocluster (ICN2, ICMAB, and IMB-CNM) and the UAB Science Faculty. 

An event to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the invention of the Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM) and the 35th of that of the Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) by some of the pioneers in the field took place at the Campus of the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (UAB) on November 16, 2021.

After the institutional welcome given by Prof. Gemma Garcia, Dean of the UAB Science Faculty, Prof. Núria Barniol (UAB) presented the history of how the first STM in Catalonia was installed at the Science Faculty of the UAB in 1990, along with other related microscopes set up during the 1990s, such as the Electrochemical STM, the Photon-STM, and the Scanning Near Field Optical Microscope (SNOM). Prof. Barniol actually was the first Ph.D. researcher in Catalonia that used the STM to carry out her thesis work (which she brought to the event).

Prof. Francesc Pérez-Murano (IMB-CNM) presented STM-related methods for nanotechnology, including the manipulation of single atoms, and the celebration of the first Spanish STM conference in 1998. Pérez-Murano also conducted his Ph.D. thesis in the same Department as Núria Barniol, during the 1990s. "The Scanning Tunneling Microscope had a great influence on the early development of nanotechnology in the 80s and 90s since it allowed scientists to see and manipulate matter at the nanometer scale and even with single-atom resolution and control" - explained Prof. Pérez-Murano. Following, Dr Jordi Fraxedas, researcher in the ICN2 Thermal Properties of Nanoscale Materials Group, discussed the role played in the origins of STM techniques in Catalonia by Prof. Fausto Sanz, who, at the time, was responsible for the Scientific and Technical Services at the University of Barcelona. Dr Fraxedas' presentation was a tribute to Prof. Fausto Sanz, who passed away on 13 April 2020.

A live session from the ICN2 STM laboratory showed the operation of an ultra-high vacuum STM, with ICREA Prof. Aitor Mugarza, leader of the ICN2 Atomic Manipulation and Spectroscopy Group, and Ph.D. student María Tenorio, who is currently working with nanoporous graphene synthesized using STM. You can watch this interesting presentation in the following video:

The last talk was given by Dr Albert Verdaguer (ICMAB), who described the present and future capabilities of the Atomic Force Microscope (AFM). Dr Verdaguer's research has been linked to AFM since he first started working at the Scientific and Technical Services at the University of Barcelona. Finally, all the speakers gathered for a brief roundtable, moderated by Anna May Masnou (ICMAB), to share their impressions on when they saw and manipulated atoms for the first time. They also talked about the opportunities provided by these techniques and their implications for further research. 

Unfortunately, due to the cyberattack received by the UAB last October, the streaming connection had a very low signal, causing bad quality video on Youtube. We apologize for the consequences to those who were attending remotely. This event was organized by the research centers belonging to the Barcelona Nanocluster (ICN2, ICMAB and IMB-CNM) and the UAB Science Faculty, in the framework of the Science Week (Setmana de la Ciència) 2021.