Instrumental Community: Probe Microscopy and the Path to Nanotechnology

Front Cover
MIT Press, 2011 - Technology & Engineering - 260 pages
0 Reviews

The scanning tunneling microscope (STM) has been hailed as the "key enabling discovery for nanotechnology," the catalyst for a scientific field that attracts nearly $20 billion in funding each year. In Instrumental Community, Cyrus Mody argues that this technology-centric view does not explain how these microscopes helped to launch nanotechnology--and fails to acknowledge the agency of the microscopists in making the STM and its variants critically important tools. Mody tells the story of the invention, spread, and commercialization of scanning probe microscopy in terms of the networked structures of collaboration and competition that came into being within a diverse, colorful, and sometimes fractious community of researchers. By forming a community, he argues, these researchers were able to innovate rapidly, share the microscopes with a wide range of users, and generate prestige (including the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physics) and profit (as the technology found applications in industry). Mody shows that both the technology of probe microscopy and the community model offered by the probe microscopists contributed to the development of political and scientific support for nanotechnology and the global funding initiatives that followed. In the course of his account, Mody charts the shifts in U.S. science policy over the last forty years--from the decline in federal basic research funding in the 1970s through the rise in academic patenting in the 1980s to the emergence of nanotechnology discourse in the 1990s--that have resulted in today's increasing emphasis on the commercialization of academic research.

 

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

Communities Innovation and Knowledge
1
Chapter 2 Inventing a Community
27
Early STM at IBM and at Bell Labs
59
Probe Microscopy Comes to California
87
Commercialization in a Changing Community
125
Chapter 6 Probe Microscopy and the Path to Nanotechnology
163
Abbreviations
201
Interviews Conducted by the Author
203
Notes
209
Bibliography
233
Index
255
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2011)

Cyrus C. M. Mody is Assistant Professor in the History Department at Rice University.

Bibliographic information