Helping Solve Processing and Materials  Problems using Scanning Probe Microscopy since 1990.

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: Products and services for AFM, STM, and SEM
: Applications of AFM and STM
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: Pharmaceutical materials
     : Collagen fibers
     : Collagen monomers
     : DNA Plasmids
   : Polymer molecules
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: Electronic Materials
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: Metals

:Gallery of interesting images



:bullet Topographic/height imaging: The core of  AFM analytical services.  Topographic images are three dimensional maps of the surface made by AFM scanning in contact or tapping mode.  From these images a wealth of results can be compiled:

bullet Additional image modes, generally done in combination with topographic imaging.
  • Phase imaging:  Done in tapping mode, phase imaging allows mapping of material domains on the surface.  Phase images are sensitive to stiffness and adhesion (stickiness) of the surface as well as edges and boundaries.  Phase images can provide important information on a variety of characteristics of the sample at the micron to nanometer scale.
    • Material distributions and chemical domains in polymer blends and copolymers
    • Presence of contaminants.
    • Inhomogeneity of the sample surface.
  • Lateral Force/Friction imaging Done in contact mode, Friction imaging measures the twist of the probe as it is scanned across the surface.  This twist corresponds to the sideways force on the tip from factors like surface slope and coefficient of friction between the surface and the tip.
  • Force Volume imaging:  While being scanned over the surface, the tip is pressed into the surface at each point and the response of the tip measured.  Allows mapping of surface stiffness and adhesion.
  • Techniques involving long range forces:
    • Lift Mode for measuring long range forces:  Most electrical and magnetic are done using "Lift Mode."  The tip first scans each the surface, then repeats the motion over that line, following a trace a preset distance above the surface.  During this second trace, the response of the tip to long-range forces such as magnetic or electrical forces is measured and an image is generated based on these measurements.
    • MFM:  In this a magnetized or magnetically sensitive tip is used for the lift mode image.  The tip reacts to magnetic forces near the sample allowing mapping of magnetic domains on the nanometer scale.
    • Electrical Techniques involving long range forces:
      • EFM:  Similar to MFM but an electric charge is applied to the tip.  The tip then reacts to electric fields near the surface and allows them to be mapped on the nanometer scale.
      • Scanning Kelvin/Surface Potential imaging: Maps the work function or surface potential of the surface.  This technique is sensitive to many surface phenomena.  Some characteristics that can be mapped include catalytic activity, doping and band-bending of semiconductors, charge trapping in dielectrics and electrochemical differences such as those involved in many kinds of corrosion.
  • Electrical measurements in contact with surface:
    • Scanning Capacitance Microscopy (SCM)  A powerful tool in studying semiconductor samples.  Scanning Capacitance Microscopy allows direct measurement of activated carrier concentration on non-uniformly doped semiconductors with nanometer scale accuracy.
    • Scanning Spreading Resistance Microscopy (SSRM) Another powerful tool for studying semiconductors and conductive polymers.  SSRM allows mapping both the topography and the dopants on the surface of conductive samples.
    • Conductive AFM (CAFM)  Maps variations in electrical conductivity.  Can be used to do things like study semiconductors, nanotubes, conductive polymers and even certain organic materials.
    • Tunneling Atomic Force Microscopy (TUNA).  Similar to CAFM but with much higher current sensitivity (< 1 pA).  Can measure conductivity through thin films and work with low conductivity samples.
  • Nanoindentation and Scratching.  Measure and test hardness, wear resistance on the Micro and Nano scale.  The AFM presses a diamond tip into the sample surface and either withdraws, leaving an indent, or drags the tip across the surface leaving a scratch, the AFM then produces an image of the resulting indent or scratch.
  • Tribology on the nanometer scale. The combined use of height and friction imaging, roughness measurement, and Nano-scratching and indenting, allows studying the tribology of materials on the nanometer and micrometer scales.

bullet We can apply these analysis techniques to a variety of materials including:
  • Semiconductors

    • Silicon

    • GaAs

    • Epitaxial wafers

  • Ceramics

  • Glass Fibers

  • Metals

  • Metal Alloys

  • Composites

  • Nanoscale Array's

  • Polymers

  • Plastic Structures

  • Biomaterials

  •     Imaging of Collagen fibers, Collagen monomers, DNA and other rod-like molecules

  • Paper

  • Wood Pulp

  • Magnetic Materials

  • Electronic Materials

  • Photonic Materials

  • Thin films

  • Soft coatings

bullet And can be used to test the results of numerous processes including:


  • Cleaning

  • Coating

  • Corrosion

  • Cracking

  • Etching

  • Extrusion

  • Microlithography

  • Molding

  • Nanolithography

  • Optical Disc Mastering

  • Optical Disc Replication

  • Optical Grating Fabrication

  • Plating

  • Polishing

  • Polymerization

  • Purification

  • Rolling

  • Texturizing

A gallery of interesting images.

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