AFM Master Class

The essential short course for researchers using atomic force microscopy

Welcome to this comprehensive short course on atomic force microscopy, courtesy of Nanosurf. This carefully curated course is designed to elevate your understanding and practical skills in AFM, from its foundational principles to advanced applications.

Session 1: Why use AFM?

This session will introduce AFM as a surface characterization technique and set it in the context of other high-resolution nanoscale characterization methods. It will discuss when it is appropriate to use AFM as a characterization technique in terms of information provided and sample requirements.

Session 2: Best practices for topography imaging

This session will provide an overview of the most common application of AFM, which is to image 3D topography of a sample on the nanoscale. This session introduce the most common imaging modes and focus on best practices for the practical user to obtain the highest quality topography images.

Session 3: Phase imaging for material contrast

Phase imaging is currently the most popular AFM mode to obtain material contrast on a sample. This session will include a discussion of what exactly phase measures and how it is useful both as an imaging mode and as an important indicator for topographic imaging.

Session 4: Overview of electrical modes

AFM is a powerful tool to characterize a variety of material properties, with electrical properties being chief among them. This session will cover the key AFM modes to measure a variety of electrical properties including surface potential, piezoelectric properties and conductivity.

Session 5: Image processing for AFM images

All AFM images require initial processing such as flattening or planefitting. This session will explain these basic image processing steps as well as additional useful image processing such as histograms, 3-D overlays, and masking. Specific examples will be shown using MountainSPIP software.

Session 6: Calibrations for AFM measurements

For certain quantitative measurements, calibrations of key AFM parameters such as cantilever spring constant and sensitivity are critical. This session will review the different methodologies for conducting the various calibrations.

Session 7: Force spectroscopy

Probably the most common AFM mode to measure mechanical properties such as modulus and adhesion is force curves, also known as force spectroscopy. This session will review what a force curve measures and the different models available for force curve analysis.

Session 8: WaveMode

he first commercial photothermal off-resonance tapping mode was launched as WaveMode in February 2022. This session will review WaveMode which enables fast imaging under gentle conditions for all samples in all environments.

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