Schematic of the coherent dual-tip scanning microscope probe

High Resolution Coherent Dual-Tip Scanning Probe Microscope

The US Army seeks a partner to license and commercialize a scanning probe microscope technology that substantially improves resolution and allows for direct and accurate interpretation of topographical features without the need for a reference lattice.

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Technology Description

The US Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Adelphi, MD, is a leading developer of devices and methods for atomic-scale technology research and development. ARL has conceived and patented an improvement to standard scanning tunneling microscopes (STM) that overcomes well-known limitations of conventional, single-tip STM systems. In place of the single-tip configuration, ARL designed a dual-tip probe comprised of two single- atom protrusions on a single-crystal metal wire. As the dual-tip probe scans across the surface of a sample material, an interference electron-wave function formed by the two protruding atoms interacts with electron wave functions of the sample surface. This creates an electron wave density as high as four times that of a single-atom tip, resulting in a much more accurate and better resolved microscopic image of the sample surface.

In addition to higher sensitivity, the Army’s probe is compatible with current STMs and can be fabricated using available industry processes, including focused ion beam milling.


  • Superior capability to characterize and resolve material surface atomic structures and defects
  • Overcomes limitations of other types of single tip probing microscopes, such as atomic force microscopes (AFM), magnetic force microscopes (MFM), and optical tunneling microscopes (OTM)
  • Broad applicability in studying the surface structure of electrically conducting solid-state materials with near atomic resolution

The Opportunity: 

  • Issued US Patent 7,526,949 is available for license
  • Potential for collaboration with ARL inventor team and laboratory

Supplemental Technical Information:

For more information, contact: 
Austin Leach, PhD | | (406) 994-7707

Licensing Instructions:

In order to apply for license to federally owned technologies, regulations require that specific information be provided regarding your company and plans for commercialization. This information will be incorporated in a license agreement which will be provided for your review prior to signature. All provided information will be considered proprietary and held confidential.

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