Scanning Probe Microscopy


Goals and Objectives
Basic Theory
  - Scanning Tunneling (STM)
  - Atomic Force (AFM)

Additional SPM Methods
  - Lateral (Friction) Force
  - Magnetic Force
  - Chemical Force
  - Phase Imaging


                    last updated 2/16/07


This module provides an introduction to Scanning Probe Microscopy (SPM).  SPM is a family of microscopy techniques where a sharp probe (2-10 nm) is scanned across a surface and probe-sample interactions are monitored. 

SPM is an extremely useful tool that is utilized in numerous research settings ranging from chemistry and materials to biological sciences. In addition to imaging surfaces with nanometer resolution, SPM can also be used to determine a variety of properties including: surface roughness, friction, surface forces, binding energies, and local elasticity. 

This module is aimed at presenting the basic theory and applications of SPM. It is aimed towards undergraduates and anyone who wants an introduction into SPM.  There are two primary forms of SPM: Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM) and Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM). The basic theory of both of these techniques is presented here along with an introduction into some additional SPM characterization methods.

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Robert Wilson and Heather Bullen, Department of Chemistry, Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights, KY 41099