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Instrumental Community

Probe Microscopy and the Path to Nanotechnology

Cyrus C. M. Mody

Publication Year: 2011

How networked structures of collaboration and competition within a community of researchers led to the invention, spread, and commercialization of scanning probe microscopy.

Published by: The MIT Press

Series: Inside Technology


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. ix-x

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiv

The idea for a book about how the atomic force microscope became a useful and ubiquitous tool first occurred to me in the summer of 1998, in the course of ethnographic research in a materials science laboratory. In that ethnography, I was looking for ways that experimental engineering knowledge overflows ...

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Chapter 1. Introduction: Communities, Innovation, and Knowledge

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pp. 1-26

At 11 a.m. on January 21, 2000, President Bill Clinton took to the stage of the California Institute of Technology’s Beckman Auditorium to announce a National Nanotechnology Initiative for the United States.1 This moment had been in preparation since the early 1990s, when a small group of federal grant officers, ...

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Chapter 2. Inventing a Community

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pp. 27-58

Not every research technology becomes the focus of an instrumental community. Building a community is, after all, difficult and often thankless work. Cultivating potential members requires a different skill set than inventing an instrument. ...

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Chapter 3. Adopting, Adapting, Departing: Early STM at IBM and at Bell Labs

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pp. 59-86

Scientists at IBM Research and at Bell Labs were not the only early adopters of the STM, but in the mid 1980s one could get that impression. For instance, Jim Murday, a program officer at the Office of Naval Research who funded many surface scientists and probe microscopists (and who assembled his own surface-science STM group at the Naval Research Lab), ...

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Chapter 4. Variation and Selection: Probe Microscopy Comes to California

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pp. 87-124

As we saw in chapter 3, surface scientists at Bell Labs and at IBM quickly formed a dense STM network (defined by both collaboration and intense competition). This sub-community of probe microscopy initially expanded within these two firms, but then carried UHV STM out into the wider surface- science community. ....

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Chapter 5. Digital Instruments: Commercialization in a Changing Community

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pp. 125-162

In the 1980s, the commercialization of academic research suddenly became a much-touted, much-disputed, much-studied phenomenon. In a sense, of course, the selling of professors’ knowledge is as old as the university itself. In the United States, the expectation of commercial return has encouraged university research since at least the middle of the nineteenth century. ...

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Chapter 6. Probe Microscopy and the Path to Nanotechnology

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pp. 163-200

Commercial production of STMs and AFMs accelerated the dramatic growth of probe microscopy. It would be next to impossible to locate every piece of research generated with a probe microscope or every commercial SPM sold, but we can get a clear sense of how commercialization amplified research output by examining some crude proxies. ...

Appendix A: Abbreviations

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pp. 201-202

Appendix B: Interviews Conducted by the Author

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pp. 203-208


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pp. 209-232


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pp. 233-254


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pp. 255-260

E-ISBN-13: 9780262298186
Print-ISBN-13: 9780262134941

Page Count: 280
Illustrations: 16 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Inside Technology
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OCLC Number: 760886275
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Instrumental Community

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Nanotechnology -- Research -- United States.
  • Nanotechnology -- Research -- Europe.
  • Scanning probe microscopy.
  • Intellectual cooperation -- Case studies.
  • Scientists -- United States -- Interviews.
  • Scientists -- Europe -- Interviews.
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