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.


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 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.


Equipment in this Core

Equipment Name Contact Location Technique(s)
Anton Paar Tosca 400 0014 Supercon
Asylum Research Cypher 0014 Supercon
Asylum Research Cypher STM 0014 Supercon
Asylum Research MFP-3D AFM 0014 Supercon
Hysitron TI-950 TriboIndenter 0013 Supercon
The Optics 11 Life Piuma system 1023 Supercon