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Instrument Reservations


SPM Training Manuals

Basic SPM Intro

AFM Probes


Force Spectroscopy

Tip Functionalization

Applications Modules

Magnetic Force Microscopy

Electrostatic Force Microscopy

PeakForce QNM

The Nano and Pico Characterization Lab (NPC) at CNSI provides access to state-of-the-art methods toward the characterization of surfaces, adsorbates, nanostructures, and devices through the use of Scanning Probe Microscopy (SPM). SPM methods differ from conventional microscopes that use light or beams of charged particles in that the SPM probe is a mechanical object. These systems rely upon a unique, tactile sensing of interactions between sharp probe tips and a sample surface. Since SPM systems directly interact with the material of interest, they are also able to go beyond imaging and probe local physiochemical properties such as friction, adhesion, stiffness/modulus, electrical charge and local magnetism. As a result SPM encompasses a wide variety of underlying techniques typically based on the fundamental methods of Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM) and Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM).

STM relies on quantum mechanics to sense a tiny electrical current flowing between the tip and surface, which are not in contact. AFM relies upon sensing tiny forces between the tip and object using a soft spring made from a silicon micromechanical cantilever onto which a sharp tip is attached. These controlled interactions allow SPM systems to 'feel', visualize and manipulate individual atoms and molecules, an element of control that can be thought of as the ultimate limit of fabrication.

SPM systems in the NPC Lab operate in a diverse range of environments, including the extreme vacuum of space (UHV), atmospheric conditions and even in liquid (including biofluids and electrochemical environments). Our partnership with Bruker provides access to the most recent cutting edge techniques, software and instrumentation alongside in-depth expertise on the most exciting new applications. For more information on the capablilites of Bruker SPM systems, visit their Nanoscale World Forum or AFM Webinar site.