My name is Michael MacDermott. I am, and forever will be, a lifelong learner. I'm also an autodidact. I've got a story to tell, and I need your help to contain the magic smoke. I realized one day that I needed to see right down to the nanoscale in order to see and understand the world I was studying. And so should everyone else. The best tool for the job was a scanning electron microscope. With current prices, these are way out of reach for the general population. But it doesn't seem like it should be. The science and technology has been around for the better part of a century; starting off as huge machines, maturing to today's compact benchtop versions. There doesn't seem to be a big enough gap in technology between a crude SEM and my grandfathers' CRT television; the only practical issue is that SEMs need to be evacuated for every new sample. So, that requires building a turbomolecular pump. Which requires building 6DOF high-speed magnetic bearings and producing precision parts. Which requires building various high resolution micro-machines such as a micro-EDM machine. Ultra-precision tolerances lead to non-contact optical metrology, nanoscale interferometers, and digital holography. Which requires stabilized lasers with long coherence length. Towards this end, I've been focusing on passive diode stabilization via self-injection locking from Rayleigh backscattering of coupling to the evanescent field of a high-Q Whispering Gallery Mode optical microresonator. This has been shown to reduce laser linewidth by 6 orders of magnitude (sub-Hz!). I was able to fabricate a microsphere from core-less silica optical fiber and a plasma arc lighter (which I thought of myself!). Sadly, when I tried to set up my laser with the crude power supply that I have, the magic smoke escaped! Now I'm stuck. I want to tackle these challenges, share my results with the world and give back to the online learning community that I've gained so much from. To do that, I need your help! A set of smart bench instruments will go so very far towards defeating these nontrivial challenges.

DOI: /10.1038/s41566-018-0277-2
DOI: /10.1364/OE.25.028167


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