These sharp tips are needed for making contact with metals or semiconductors as well as for the manipulation and examination of atoms, molecules and small particles. Ultrafine tips are demanded for future experiments where the results are directly dependent on shape of the tip.
The tips made by Wolkow and the research team--made up of Moh'd Rezeq and Jason Pitters from NINT--are so stable they withstand about 900 degrees Celsius. They are so sharp they appear so far to serve as excellent emitters of electron beams. "The lenses in an electron microscope work more perfectly if the electron beam comes from a really small point," said Wolkow. "Since we have the smallest point source of electrons, we think we will be able to make the best electron microscopes. This is speculation, but based on pretty conventional thinking.