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Scanning Electrochemical - Atomic Force Microscopy

University Dept. / Industry Sector


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Relevant Patents


COAP / Company Number



Dr. John Mihell
02476 575 483




Dr Macpherson's group is a world leader in Electrochemical Scan probes as used on Atomic Force microscopes. Along with Glasgow Electronic Engineering dept (who have micro-fabrication and thermal probe expertise), there is an approved EPSRC bid for a £200k project (in the Instrument Development call), which was very well received by the referees, and has an industrial letter of support from "Molecular Imaging" world leader in the industry. The project will develop probes of various designs, and demonstrate their use in some applications. The request was about whether this should be protected by a patent at the start (which would be a joint invention with Glasgow University).

The electrochemical probe allows for surface measurements of an electrochemical nature to be made and correlated to surface topography on a nano-metre scale. The applications of this technique are in research in both life sciences and chemistry, such as tissue measurements, single cell measurements, and in dissolution processes. We expect to know within 12 months if the probes are effective.


A patent has been filed (PCT/GB98/00100) for a SMART MOSFET Gas Sensor. This has various sandwiched layers of semiconductors and insulators, which combines effective gas sensing when operating in the 300-600oC with ease of fabrication (which allows low cost production using conventional bulk fabrication processes).

The Market

If successful, the probes will be marketable most likely through licence(s) to the current players in the industry. However, Glasgow have some experience of marketing similar probes. The market for such a product is a specialised niche market, but can command high premiums where no or limited competition exists.

Next Steps

Confirm professionally that the ideas involved here can be patented and arrange for such protection. Confirm arrangements with Glasgow University.