Atomic Force Microscope (Rasterkraftmikroskop)

Instumentelle Analytik (Umwelt- und Bodenchemie)


Dimension Icon AFM (Veeco Instruments)


AFM is no traditional microscopic technique as it does not use direct optical examination of the specimen but visualizes the sample surface by scanning a sharp tip across it. The technique is a non-destructive imaging method as the tip does not need to be in contact with the specimen surface (however for some measurements a contact between tip and sample surface may be favourable). Apart from topographical images additional information can be extracted from the tip-specimen interaction. These include material properties such as stiffness and roughness. Additionally, it is possible to determine the force acting between the tip and the specimen surface. This delivers information about e.g. the interaction of sample and tip (which can be coated with materials of interest) or the hydrophilicity of the surface. A special measurement mode of the Icon AFM allows simultaneous imaging of topographical features together with force curve determination, enabling a spatial combination of these information. The instrument gives a resolution from to the atomic level under optimal conditions to several micrometers.

Apart from applications in the investigation of nanomaterials and their interaction with environmental surfaces, AFM is often used for biological applications or in materials science.