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Atomic force microscopy
Atomic force microscopy (AFM), is used to determine surface topography of smooth surfaces. It can provide high resolution images of surfaces and roughness analysis.
In AFM, a probe with a sharp tip is attached to a cantilever that scans over the sample surface. The tip is moved vertically by a feedback loop to keep a tip-sample interaction at a constant level. The surface topography of the sample is constructed by recording the vertical movements. The movement of the probe is typically recorded with a laser beam that is focused onto the end of the cantilever. The reflection from the laser is detected with a position sensitive photodiode (PSPD).
AFM is based on forces that interact between the cantilever tip and the sample surface. Decrease in the distance between the tip and sample surface increases repulsive forces that formed due to the overlapping atomic orbitals These interactions are used as an input for the feedback loop.
In contact mode, a probe tip is constantly in contact with the sample surface and the vertical deflection of the cantilever is kept constant during the scan. AFM contact mode can produce high resolution topography images.
Tapping mode can be used when the sample is too fragile for the contact mode. Tapping mode scans the surface with an oscillating cantilever. The tip is positioned so that the tip slightly contacts the surface of the sample. Tapping mode uses the amplitude of cantilever oscillation to detect changes in the tip-sample interaction forces. The probe is moved vertically with a constant amplitude. . This lateral movement is recorded to form topographical information. PSPD is used to measure the movement of the cantilever oscillation.
Non-contact mode is a non-invasive technique because the cantilever tip is not in direct contact with the sample. Cantilever oscillates near its resonant frequency close to the surface The changes in the cantilever’s resonant frequency or vibration amplitude are detected.
Suitable sample matrices
- Thin films
Ideal uses of AFM
- Characterize topography of solid surfaces.
- High resolution surface images.
- 3D-images from surface roughness and texture.
Frequently asked questions
AFM is used to determine the topography of smooth surfaces.
It can produce quantitative 3D surface profiles, and roughness analysis.
AFM contact mode may harm some sample matrices because the tip is in direct contact with the sample.
AFM is suitable for a wide range of surfaces, including polymers, ceramics, composites, glass, and some biological samples.
Measurlabs offers a variety of laboratory analyses for product developers and quality managers. We perform some of the analyses in our own lab, but mostly we outsource them to carefully selected partner laboratories. This way we can send each sample to the lab that is best suited for the purpose, and offer high-quality analyses with more than a thousand different methods to our clients.
When you contact us through our contact form or by email, one of our specialists will take ownership of your case and answer your query. You get an offer with all the necessary details about the analysis, and can send your samples to the indicated address. We will then take care of sending your samples to the correct laboratories and write a clear report on the results for you.
Samples are usually delivered to our laboratory via courier. Contact us for further details before sending samples.
Atomic force microscopy is an imaging technique for analyzing topography of surfaces with high resolution. It can be used to produce 3D images that reveal surface roughness and texture. Measur works with the best AFM laboratories to provide high-quality AFM services to our customers.