S R Manalis and his colleagues at the Stanford University, in the US, have reported the fabrication of a new type of cantilever which uses optical deflection and is extremely sensitive. A movable grating is used to diffract a laser beam which is then detected by a photodiode. The basic advantage of this approach is that the detecting apparatus need not be close to the cantilever as opposed to the tunneling microscope, where the probe is situated just behind the cantilever. In the rapidly changing field of micromechanics, such an instrument may prove to be extremely useful to develop new techniques ( Nature , Vol 385, No 6619).
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