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A cool visualization with (New) Graphics


Matt Trawick, an associate professor of physics at the University of Richmond, develops atomic force microscopy techniques for use in studying various nanostructures. He used C++ and IDL 8 to analyze his data and produce, with (New) Graphics, this visualization:

Matt Trawick: aligning scans from an atomic force microscope

Here’s Prof. Trawick’s description:

The blue and yellow surfaces are two different scans of a sample (a thin gold film deposited on mica) made with an atomic force microscope, which operates by physically rastering a sharp tip across a sample surface. All units in the figure are in nanometers. When originally taken, the two scans were distorted (stretched, skewed, and tilted) by about 100 nanometers due to positional drift in the microscope, a common problem caused by, for instance, environmental temperature change during imaging. The two distorted scans were corrected, independently, using a new technique I have developed in my laboratory. The purpose of this graphic is to show the extent to which these corrected images are aligned. The vector annotations show the residual in-plane (black) and perpendicular (red) displacement of the top image for each of the square regions shown. The lengths of the arrows are exaggerated by 40x relative to their respective scales on the graph. All numerical analysis of these corrected scans was performed in IDL.

Thanks, Matt! If you’ve made a cool visualization with IDL that you’d like to share, please let me know and I’ll post it, along with a description.