My research group are instrument builders: we predominantly use custom-built instruments to examine, and sometimes also modify, the properties of matter, molecules and nanostructures at the atomic length scale. For example, the image reproduced below left shows a Pan-style scanning tunneling microscope, that was designed by Ben Drevniok and operated in ultra-high vacuum in a continuous flow cryostat by both Ben and Alex Inayeh.
However, funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) Innovation Fund, has recently allowed us to acquire two commercial low temperature scanning probes. One of them is a CreaTec scanning probe microscope (below right), that is located in the basement of Stirling Hall where the floor vibrations are small. This instrument allows us to perform both scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and non-contact atomic force microscopy (NC-AFM) at temperatures down to 5.0 K. It is currently being used to study the attachment and subsequent self-assembly of N-heterocyclic carbenes (NHCs) on metal surfaces. The other is a low temperature scanning probe manufactured by Scienta Omicron that allows us to perform scanning probe microscopy and optical spectroscopy concurrently. This instrument is part of the Queen's Nanophotonics Centre.