One of the most important acronyms in nanotechnology is AFM – Atomic Force Microscopy. This instrument has become the most widely used tool for imaging, measuring and manipulating matter at the nanoscale and in turn has inspired a variety of other scanning probe techniques.
Originally the AFM was used to image the topography of surfaces, but by modifying the tip it is possible to measure other quantities (for example, electric and magnetic properties, chemical potentials, friction and so on), and also to perform various types of spectroscopy and analysis.
Well over 20,000 AFM-related papers have been published; over 500 patents were issued related to various forms of scanning probe microscopes (SPM); several dozen companies are involved in manufacturing SPM and related instruments, with an annual worldwide turnover of $250-300 million, and approx. 10,000 commercial systems sold. Read more on AFM here in our Nanowerk Spotlight: A key tool for nanotechnology: Atomic Force Microscopy.
Here is an overview of the most important and largest manufacturers of atomic force microscopes (in alphabetical order):
Develops and builds instruments and probes which offer chemical, mechanical, and thermal analysis at the sub-100nm scale. The Company's technology and products are being used to address metrology and analysis challenges in the polymers, pharmaceuticals, data-storage, and advanced-materials markets.
Bruker is one of the world's leading analytical instrumentation companies. Bruker systems cover a broad spectrum of applications in all fields of research and development and are used in all industrial production processes for the purpose of ensuring quality and process reliability.
CSInstruments is a French scientific equipment manufacturer specialized in the conception of Atomic Force Microscope and options designed for existing AFM. Its activities are focused on research, development and design of simple solution, innovative and quality around the AFM to allow researchers and industry to improve their research project.
Nanonics is a nanoscale characterization company that manufactures scanning probe microscopes (SPM) and atomic force microscopes (AFM), with an emphasis on integrating them with other tools such as optical, spectroscopic, and electron microscopes. Among the more popular of these class if tools emerged the scanning optical microscope (NSOM/SNOM) and AFM-Raman microscope.
Develops and produces innnovative and state of the art devices that facilitate nanotechnology projects. These improvements range from specialized AFM instruments to the probes and sensors used to characterize samples.
A manufacturer of high performance instrumentation for scientific and industrial applications focused on new solutions for Optical and Scanning Probe Microscopy: SNOM (NSOM), Confocal Raman Microscopy, AFM, SPM, PFM.