IBM Zurich, in association with the researchers of University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Pennsylvania has come up with a material that is durable enough to operate on microscopically small scale which using which an ultra-small probe tip has been built.
The ultra small probe tip is 10000 times smaller than a pencil point. The probe is harder compared to its predecessors and for this reason it is suitable for being a part of microscopic mechanical machines reports c|net.
The suitable design of this probe tip makes it a very useful instrument for scientific applications. For instance the probe tip could be used to detect the amount of glucose in patients suffering from diabetes. The tip can also serve as a detector of impurities in water.
According to the researchers, tips based on the earlier designs were manufactured with silicon and this characteristic eventually made them decay easily in extremely high temperature conditions. The researchers further added that to make instruments which are better in acting as an environmental sensor, devices need to be a good conductor of heat.
The researcher then, in an attempt to form a more effective instrument, resorted to a process called annealing. This time, instead of using silicon, they used silicon carbide, to craft a tip. The use of silicon carbide, made the current design of the tip, far harder than the earlier one.