Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM)

An Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) provides 3 dimensional topographic information about a sample by probing its surface structure with a very sharp tip. The tip is scanned laterally across the surface, and the vertical movements of the tip are recorded and used to construct a quantitative 3 dimensional topographic map. The lateral resolution of the image can be as small as the tip radius (typically 5-15 nm), and the vertical resolution can be on the order of angstroms.

Technique Advantages
  • Quantitative topographical information at high lateral resolution
  • Little or no sample prep in many cases
  • Little to no harm to sample
  • Applicable to conductive and insulating materials
Typical Applications
  • High-resolution surface profilometry
  • Surface roughness measurements
  • Microstructural studies of metallic, ceramic, semiconducting and polymeric materials
  • Defect and failure analysis
  • Pit analysis for optical disk storage media
  • Magnetic domain and surface roughness analysis for computer hard-disks
  • Semiconductor device structural analyses
  • Surface cleaning and polishing studies
  • Phase separation in polymers
  • Critical Dimension Measurements
  • Investigation of local mechanical properties (i.e. stiffness, adhesion, friction)
  • High-resolution imaging of biological samples
  • Studies of nano-scale forces
Instrumentation
AFM: Bruker Icon I
  • Sample Size: 210mm vacuum chuck for samples, ≤ 210mm diameter, ≤15mm thick
  • X-Y Position Noise: ≤0.15nm RMS typical imaging bandwidth (up to 625Hz)
  • Z Sensor Noise Level: 35pm RMS typical imaging bandwidth (up to 625Hz)
  • X-Y Imaging Area: 90µm x 90µm typical
  • Z range: 10µm typical in imaging and force curve modes
  • Modes:
    • Contact Mode
    • Lateral Force Microscopy
    • Conductive AFM
    • Piezo Response Microscopy
    • Scanning Capacitance Microscopy
    • Tapping Mode w/ Phase Imaging
    • Electrostatic Force Microscopy
    • Magnetic Force Microscopy
    • Kelvin Probe Force Microscopy
    • PeakForce Tapping w/ ScanAsyst
    • PeakForce Quantitative Nanomechanical Mapping
    • PeakForce TUNA
    • PeakForce Kelvin Probe Force Microscopy
AFM: Bruker Icon II

Additional capabilities from above:

  • Dimension heater/cooler stage enables AFM at two different temperature ranges:
    • -35ºC up to 100ºC
    • room temperature up to 250ºC