The Scanning Tunneling Microscope originally gained attention as a simple device for imaging atoms. From that exotic beginning, there has grown a family of Scanning Probe Microscopes, of which the Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) is the most common. Various versions of these instruments operate in air, in liquid, and in vacuum. They record 3-dimensional topography, magnetic and electric fields, friction, adhesion, stiffness, optical spectra, and more.

Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM) image of atoms on
highly ordered pyrolitic graphite (HOPG).
3D representation of AFM image of data marks on a Nickel CD stamper
Magnetic Force Microscopy (MFM)
image of data on a magnetic hard disk.
AFM image of DNA Plasmid on Mica

Composite surfaces of industrial interest may be created either deliberately (examples include: microfabrication of thin-film recording heads and polymer processing) or accidentally (contaminants on or defects in the surface).  TappingModeTM/Phase images can map the material domains with spatial resolution down to 10 nm.  Such images can be a powerful aid in process control.

TappingMode Height and Phase Image of Polymer Coating on the inner surface of an Aluminum beverage can. The dark and light regions in the phase image (Right) reveal different material domains.

Phase images show the mechanical phase of the tapping tip relative to the drive signal which oscillates the cantilever.  The phase image supplements the ordinary height image and often provides unique contrast related to material differences in stiffness and adhesion.

Nano-indentation and Nano-scratching have been developed to provide further information about stiffness and wear resistence with high sensitivity and spatial resolution.



In addition, with proper calibration specimens and our calibration correction software, standard, general use, AFM’s can make accurate and highly precise measurements.

5 mm AFM image of a typical Model 150-2D Calibration Specimen.
Feature spacing (Track Pitch)
of calibration specimen without calibration
correction. (Standard factory calibration)
Feature spacing (Track Pitch) of calibration
specimen with calibration correction. (Special high-accuracy calibration using our software)