In late 1959, Richard Feynman observed that manoeuvring atoms was something that could be done in principle but has not been done, `because we are too big`. In 1982, the scanning tunnelling microscope (STM) was invented and is now a central tool for the construction of nanoscale devices in what was known as molecular engineering, and now, nanotechnology. The principles of the microscope are outlined and references are made to other scanning devices which have evolved from the original invention. The method of employment of the STM as a machine tool is described and references are made to current speculations on applications of the instrument in nanotechnology. A short bibliography on this topic is included. 27 refs., 7 figs.
Mainsbridge, B 
- Murdoch Univ., WA (Australia). School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences