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Dr R A Oliver

Atomic force microscopy (AFM) is one of the key techniques of nanoscience and nanotechnology, providing relatively straightforward access to nanoscale surface structure for a vast range of materials: both conductors and insulators, soft and hard materials, even samples in a fluid environment. In this course, we will explore the physical principles which underlie this powerful technique and its practical implementation. Attention will be given to interpreting data, avoiding artefacts and understanding sources of error. Moreover, AFM also provides the basis for a wealth of other scanning probe microscopy techniques which allow the measurement of a wide range of materials properties, such as conductivity and stiffness, to be performed at the nanoscale. The course will address these various imaging modes and consider the strengths and weaknesses of these techniques.

The lecture course is designed to be supported by the Part II Practical on AFM, and also provides the underpinning knowledge required for the Part II Techniques Project on AFM.

This lecture course will cover:

  • Principles and practicalities of topographic imaging in AFM: Tapping mode and contact mode, key components of the AFM, understanding the feedback circuit, image optimisation principles, resolution.
  • Artefacts in AFM imaging: tip-related artefacts, feedback-related artefacts, image processing.
  • Electrical and magnetic characterisation using AFM:t apping mode techniques including magnetic force microscopy and kelvin probe force microscopy, contact mode techniques including scanning capacitance microscopy and techniques involving tip-sample current flow, spectroscopic data.
  • Mechanical property characterisation using AFM: phase imaging, friction force microscopy, force distance curves.
  • Nanofabrication in AFM.
  • AFM imaging of biological samples.