AFM MEASUREMENT AND IMAGING SERVICES
Also known as Scanning Probe Microscopy (SPM), Scanning Force Microscopy (SFM)
Atomic force microscopy (AFM) measures the surface topography of materials in which an oscillating cantilever with a sharp protruding tip makes intermittent contact with the surface. The resolution is sub-nanometer in height and 3-10 nanometer in lateral dimensions.
AFM is an exceptional technique for measuring surface roughness, step height, and particle size distribution. The fast-scan capabilities image 10x faster than traditional AFMs, which is ideal for scanning large wafers. Advanced imaging modes offer additional information toward the properties of the materials such as, adhesion, modulus, charge distribution, work function, and magnetic domains.
INDUSTRIES & APPLICATIONS WHERE AFM IS COMMON:
Thin films development, semiconductors, MEMS, optical components, coatings, piezoelectric materials, and magnetic materials are common uses of AFM services.
MEASUREMENTS GROUPED BY AFM MODE
|AFM Modes||Sample||Typical data||Typical Turnaround Time|
|Contact AFM||All types||Surface topography, 3D mapping, roughness||< 48h|
|Tapping Mode AFM||All types||Surface topography, 3D mapping, roughness, phase imaging||< 48h|
|Electrostatic (EFM)||Composite Metal, Semiconductor films||Local charge distribution||< 48h|
|Magnetic (MFM)||Magnetic films||Magnetic domain structure, magnetization hysteresis, magnetic coercive field||< 48h|
|Piezoresponse (PFM)||Piezo materials, MEMS||Piezo domain structure, polarization vector and switching, ferroelectric coercive field||< 48h|
|Peak Force AFM||Thin-film||Roughness, Surface topography||< 48h|
|Peak Force Quantitative Nanomechanical (QNM)||Polymer Coating||Mechanical properties (adhesion, modulus and dissipation), Phase imaging, Polymer domains||< 48h|
|Kelvin Probe (AM-KPFM)||Thin films, Semiconductors||Surface potential, work function||< 48h|
MEASUREMENTS MADE VIA AFM:
- Topography and surface quality: Complete 3D model of a sample’s surface with sub-Å vertical resolution and lateral resolution on the nanometer to sub-nanometer scale.
- Full 3D/2D topography
- Roughness (Ra, Rq)
- Step height
- Profile slices
- Particle counts
- Defect Analysis
- Mechanical characterization and phase mapping: adhesion, modulus and dissipation
- Magnetic domains, magnetization hysteresis, and magnetic coercive field.
- Surface potential and work function.
- Piezoelectric domains, polarization vector and switching, and ferroelectric coercive field.
- Electrostatic gradients and capacitance variations.
Uses & Limitations of AFM:
- What our AFM services are great for:
- Quantified topography/ roughness of very smooth samples
- Best z resolution
- Surface imaging of insulating samples with no extra sample prep
- High definition functional properties mapping (mechanical, electric, magnetic, piezo)
- Imaging topography of samples in liquid
- Defect Analysis
- Requires expertise for reliable results, even on seemingly easy samples
- No compositional mapping available
- Z-resolution: 1 Å
- Scan range is limited to 90 x 90 microns in X,Y and 5 microns in Z.
- Sample size is limited to 300 x 300 mm
- Results are often qualitative
EXAMPLE OUTPUTS OF AFM
Atomic Steps of Epitaxial Silicon: Tapping Mode AFM, 3D render
Tapping Mode Topography (left) and KPFM (right) on ITO showing variations in surface potential.
KPFM can measure the work function of thin film surfaces as well as resolve minute differences in the surface potential using lift mode to remove topographic contributions.
Quantitative Nano-mechanical Microscopy of Carbon Fiber Encapsulated in Epoxy
- Carbon fibers are apparently softer than the surrounding epoxy matrix.
- Log DMT Modulus shows the fibers brighter (more resilient) than the more firm surroundings.
- The deformation channel shows the tip compressing the fiber ends on the order of 2 nm.
Electrostatic Force Microscopy of Titanium Carbide- Alumina Surface
- Topography image on the left shows the higher TiC grains suspended in the Al2O3 matrix.
- The EFM or phase image shows differences in the electrical attraction of the tip to the TiC grains and the alumina.
INSTRUMENTS USED FOR AFM
The Tosca AFM from Anton Paar uniquely combines premium technology with time-efficient operation, making this AFM a perfect nanotechnology analysis tool for scientists and industrial users alike.
The Jupiter XR Atomic Force Microscope from Oxford Instruments Asylum Research is the first and only large-sample AFM to offer both high-speed imaging and extended range in a single scanner. Jupiter provides complete 200 mm sample access and delivers higher resolution, faster results, a simpler user experience, and the versatility to excel in both academic research and industrial R&D laboratories.
Higher resolution than any other large-sample AFM
Extended range 100 μm scanner is 5-20× faster than most other AFMs
From setup to results, every step is simpler and faster
Modular design adapts to your needs for maximum flexibility