In another moment that proves some students are smarter than many of us could ever hope to be, a group of them from the University College London, Tsinghua University, and Peking University all came together recently to build the world’s first low-cost atomic force microscope (nano-scope) out of everyone’s favorite childhood toy, Legos.
Legos have always been the most versatile of the kiddie fare, allowing you to build anything from robots, to life size models, to, well, nano-scopes apparently. This time, they’re allowing these students to build this technology for about $500, a fraction of the $100,000 price tag it usually pulls. And they did it in 5 days.
For those of us not in the know, a nano-scope can scan objects as small as a millionth of a millimeter. The AFM consists of a tip, called a probe, which is placed close to the sample and is used to scan a small area to measure that part of the sample and map it out at a high resolution.
This new breakthrough is apparently being called a “game-changer”, and could have applications in education, as well as in poorer countries who cannot afford the more expensive kind of device in their hospitals.