The next module I cover is on Scanning Probe Microscopy. We have two scanning probe microscopes on campus. The first one is a Nanoscience Instruments Nanosurf. The other is a Veeco/DI CP-II which I am told was formerly a Park Instruments system. I do two lab activities in this section. The students all measure a CD using the CP-II AFM. Since I can only have a few students at a time use the system I have the others do another lab which I included here. This is based on the lab from the University of Wisconsin Madison MRSEC web site:


This site has a number of labs. The video lab manual is very good and there are many other curricular materials here. The actual lab is derived from the documment located here:


I made this using a piece of needlepoint material which I got from a craft store. I then glued a piece of aluminum foil to a piece of card board (matting board actually) and then put different letters from the word "NANOTECHNOLOGY" using scotch tape on the aluminum so the students can't see it. I then glued the needlepoint grid on top. The students use a multimeter to probe the grid therefore simulating the function of a STM. I almost elminated this lab until a student told me it was one of his favorites, discovering the secret image hidden on the surface. This lab also gives you a chance to teach the students how to use a multimeter which is a necessary skill.

I have had some busy weeks and my blog is now quite a ways behind my classes. The next modules will be Spectroscopy and then Nanomaterials: Carbon Nanotubes. I also attended the NSF ATE conference in Washington DC last week.

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Comment by Hans Mikelson on November 11, 2008 at 12:42am
The atomic force microscope is sometimes called scanning force microscope. It is very similar to the scanning tunneling microscope (STM) in that it uses a probe tip to measure the surface. The scanning tunneling microscope measures tunneling current and therefore is limited to conductive samples.

The atomic force microscope (AFM) uses a cantilever with a probe tip. It is not actually possible to measure with atomic resolution so the name is a somewhat misleading. A laser is deflected off the tip of the cantilever into a photodetector. The deflection of the cantilever is measured and from that the height of the surface is determined. As the probe tip approaches the surface there is initially an attractive force as the electron clouds rearrange to produce an induced dipole. Later as the electron clouds begin to overlap a repulsion develops that over takes the attractive force.

The image above shows a typical result. They are very useful for measuring the height of the surface and surface roughness similar to a profilometer. The maximum step height and scan range they can achieve is somewhat limited. The step height is typically limited to ~5 microns and the scan range is typically <100 microns.

I changed the name of this post to Scanning Probe Microscopy which is better.

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Comment by slimani on November 8, 2008 at 4:50pm
is very interesting ,but is not my domain ,is it possible the nanoelectronic one or not,if it is possible what you require as degree of stuy

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Comment by TINC on November 8, 2008 at 12:21am
thanks for your post... I work also with SPM

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