Scanning Probe Microscopy

The scanning probe suite at MRL comprises a variety of instruments with complementary capabilities that enable the measurement of sample topography down to atomic resolution, local electromagnetic properties, and nanomechanical properties.

Techniques

Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM)

Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) instruments are available for scanning in air, or other gases, or liquids within a wide variety of imaging and measurement modes, plus nanomanipulation. All of our instruments have sub-angstrom vertical resolution. Lateral resolution is generally limited by the tip geometry, not the instrument.

Nanoindentation

Nanoindentation involves a variety of hardness tests applied to small volumes, and is perhaps the most commonly applied means of testing mechanical properties of materials. MRL’s suite of nanoindentation machines go beyond the traditional quasistatic nanoindentation to serve a great variety of testing needs.

Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM)

In Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM), an electrically-biased tip is scanned very close to a surface (about an atomic diameter away). The current flow between the tip and the sample (due to quantum tunneling) strongly depends on the tip-surface gap; this relationship can be used to generate a surface topography map. Atomic-scale topographic resolution is achievable. All samples for STM must be at least somewhat electrically conductive.

Surface Profilometry

Surface profilometry is a contact measurement technique in which a diamond-tipped stylus is used to measure surface topography as it moves across the surface of a specimen.



Equipment in this Core

Equipment Name Contact Location Techniques
Equipment Name Contact Location Techniques
The Optics 11 Life Piuma system jcspear kawalsh 1023 Supercon
  • Nanoindentation

The Optics 11 Life Piuma soft materials nanoindenter uses cantilever-based nanoindentation (similar to AFM force curves) to determine the Young’s modulus of samples ranging from a few tens of Pascals to 1 GPa. The Piuma is generally more user-friendly and versatile to work with than a traditional AFM, especially for biological samples, without compromising data quality. Operation in air or fluid and automated grids of indentations are simple to set up. Probes are constructed with spherical borosilicate glass tips ranging from 6 – 500 µm diameter (similar to colloidal probe AFM design).

(Please inquire in advance whether your samples satisfy the biosafety level requirements of the MRL).

Sample Conditions Supported by the Piuma:

  • Dry, Wet, or Submerged in Liquid
  • Size range: From 100 µm diameter to 12 mm on a side
  • Shape: Flat, curved, complex topography, porous
  • Young’s Modulus / Stiffness range: 5 Pa to 1 GPa

Piuma Technical Specifications

  • Probe Tip Sizes: 6 – 500 µm diameter borosilicate spheres
  • Probe Cantilever Spring Constant: k = 0.03 N/m – 150 N/m
  • Force Sensitivity Range: 1 nN – 2 mN
  • Maximum Piezo Motor Displacement: 20 µm
  • Stage Motors (X,Y,and Z-axes): 1 µm minimum, 12 mm maximum displacement
  • Single Indentation or Surface Mapping
  • Automated Find Surface
  • Measurement Mode: Quasi-Static (Closed Loop Piezo Motor Displacement)
  • Camera: 10x magnification, overhead view
See More Details
Neaspec NanoFTIR/NIM AFM, SSNOM soares kawalsh 0022 Supercon
  • Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM)
  • Microscopy

Chemical information from FTIR near-field reflection spectroscopy/imaging and topographic characterization with 20 nm spatial resolution

See More Details
Sloan Dektak3ST Profilometer kawalsh jcspear B80 MRL
  • Surface Profilometry

Surface profilometry is a contact measurement technique in which a diamond-tipped stylus is used to measure surface topography as it moves across the surface of a specimen.

See More Details
Hysitron TI-950 TriboIndenter jcspear kawalsh 0013 Supercon
  • Nanoindentation

The Hysitron TI 950 TriboIndenter at the Materials Research Laboratory is a versatile instrument with capabilities beyond traditional quasistatic nanoindentation. In addition to a standard transducer which can apply micronewton-to-few-mN loads over a displacement range of several micrometers, a high load transducer allows indents to be made at loads of up to 2.8 N over a displacement of up to 90 microns.

See More Details
Asylum Research Cypher STM kawalsh B12 MRL
  • Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM)

STM mode on the Cypher serves in part as a testbed for determining whether STM is a viable experimental technique for samples before investing effort into UHV STM measurements. Additionally, the ambient conditions on this instrument permit STM measurements of samples which may not respond well to vacuum environments. This STM can do imaging and I-V curves but is not currently able to perform dI/dV measurements.

See More Details
Asylum Research Cypher kawalsh jcspear B12 MRL
  • Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM)

The Cypher is a state-of-the-art AFM from Asylum Research, featuring exceptionally low noise and fast scanning capabilities in addition to advanced scanning modes in air or liquid environments. Maximum lateral scan size on this instrument is 30 µm x 30 µm, and maximum vertical range is 5 µm.

See More Details
Asylum Research MFP-3D AFM kawalsh jcspear B12 MRL
  • Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM)

These two AFMs from Asylum Research feature closed-loop, low noise, high precision scanners, with Q-controlled AC modes (with phase imaging), piezo response imaging, contact mode with lateral force, and detailed force-distance measurements. These systems allow scanning in air or liquid environments, and have extensive nanomanipulation and nanolithography capabilities. Maximum lateral scan size on these instruments is 90 µm x 90 µm, and maximum vertical range is 15 µm.

See More Details