Technology Transfer SSC Pacific
Rotatable Scanning Probe Microscopy Head








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Device consolidates several scanning probe tips into rotating array

The U.S. Navy seeks to commercialize, through licensing and collaborative commercial partnerships, U.S. Patent 7,597,717 (Rotatable multi-cantilever scanning probe microscopy head). 


Scanning Probe Microscopy (SPM) is a branch of the field of Microscopy, which is the use of microscopes to view samples or objects. SPM involves the interaction of a scanning probe with the surface or object of interest. SPM, in general, is a term used to describe a growing number of techniques that use a sharp probe to measure surfaces.

The growing field of Scanning Probe Microscopy has benefitted various fields of research that operate on a scale from microns down to nanometers. SPM has played a part in advancements in industries such as solar, data storage, integrated circuits, chemistry, and in many medical areas of study like DNA, cell membranes and bacteria.

The Technology

There are over 20 established types of scanning probe microscopes. Currently, each microscope requires a separate circuitry box to complete each specialized measurement (Capacitance, Magnetic, Spreading Resistance, Temperature, etc.), which can cost between $30-$50K each. SSC Pacific has developed a technology that consolidates many circuit boxes onto one array that rotates to apply each measurement. Instead of removing a circuit box on the machine and replacing it with another, the user would rotate the scanning probe head and apply the next measurement to the sample. This technology could allow the user to obtain more information about one sample by allowing many different tips to interact with the same measurement site. The system could also save money and materials during production by consolidating circuitry onto one machine.

Key Benefits

  • Capability to obtain more information about the sample area under study due to the integration of different types of specialized measurements
  • Ability to change circuit box quickly and with minimal disruption to sample
  • Lower cost to produce by consolidating circuitry onto one machine
  • Decreased cost of materials by avoiding duplication of parts
  • Development Status 

  • U.S. Patent issued: 7,597,717
  • Total R&D: $500K and 2 years 
  • DoD5000 Series Technical Readiness Level 2: Technology concept and/or application formulated
  • Potential to reach high Technical Readiness Level within an estimated 6 months
  • For more information on technology transfer, please contact us at (619) 5532778 or email  
    SD 867, October 2009. SSC Pacific, San Diego, CA 921525001. Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.

    SSC Pacific
    Updated: 10/25/2011 10:50 AM EST   Published