AFM Workshop


Nano-Profiling AFM
For process control and development

The NP AFM is a nanoprofiler for analysis of features such as surface roughness and metrology of technical samples. Primary applications for the NP AFM include process development and process control of technical samples.

Price Range*
$41,775.00 -
* Prices vary depending on options purchased, importation taxes, and installation - training fees.

Click to Submit Inquiries or Questions


NP-AFM Details

Video Microscope
Probe Holder
NP AFM Overview
High Resolution Video Microscope Readily locate Features for Scanning
Multiple Sample Stage or Vacuum Chuck Optimized for specific technical samples
Closed Loop XY scanner Great accuracy with rapid zoom to feature
Probe Exchange Tool Reduce time for probe exchange
In plane flexure XY scanner Minimal out of plane motion in images
Labview software with USB communication Readily adaptable to new operating systems
Uses Industry standard probes Probes for specific measurements are readily available.
Includes Vibrating, Non-Vibrating modes Turnkey system

From $41,775.00*
*Plus purchase of selected Z Scanner:
Z scanner 7µm -or-
Z scanner with strain gauge 16µm

Download: NP AFM Product Datasheet PDF
NP AFM-4022 3D
NP AFM-4012 3D


Nano-Profiler AFM Overview

The NP AFM is a complete nanoprofiler tool including everything required for scanning samples: microscope stage, electronic box, control computer, probes, manuals, and a video microscope. Samples as large as 200 mm X 200 mm X 20 mm are profiled by the NP AFM system, and several stage options are available for many types of samples. The Nano-Profiler AFM is primarily used for routine scanning of technical samples such as wafers and disks or for nanotechnology research.

Key Features of the NP AFM

Nano-Profiling AFM The NP AFM accommodates industry-standard sized probes and is used for profiling technical samples including wafers and disks in industry applications.
Standard Operating Modes Vibrating mode is used for high resolution and soft samples, while non-vibrating mode can be used for routine scanning. Also included with the system are phase and lateral force modes.
Three Sample Stage Options Three sample stage options can accommodate different samples with sizes as large as 200mm X 200mm X 20mm.
Linearized X, Y Piezoelectric Scanner Piezoelectric X and Y scanners incorporate strain gauges that provide linear scans and rapid zoom-to-feature capabilities.
Direct-Drive Tip Approach A linear motion stage is used to move the probe perpendicular to the sample. Probe angle alignment is not required, facilitating a much faster probe approach.
LabVIEW Operation Industry standard programming environment, functions include setting scanning parameters, probe approach, frequency tuning, and displaying images in real time. Compatible with older operating systems as well.
Video Microscope The video optical microscope in a NP-2 AFM serves three functions: aligning the laser onto the cantilever in the light lever AFM, locating surface features for scanning, and facilitating probe approach.

NP AFM Capabilities

Visualization of Surface Features Visualization of surface features can help understand why a process is working or not working. AFM offers extreme contrast on flat samples often encountered in industry wafers and disks for quality control and assurance.
Surface Roughness/Texture Surface roughness measurements at the nanoscale are only possible with an atomic force microscope. With the appropriate vibration isolation enclosure, it is possible to measure surface textures under 0.1 nm.
Step-Height Measurements The NP AFM is a stylus profiler capable of making step height measurements from 0.3 to 500 nanometers. An included video microscope is essential for locating regions of interest for scanning.

NP AFM Stage

The NP AFM stage has excellent thermal and mechanical stability required for high resolution AFM profiling. Additionally, its open design facilitates user modification.

Nano Profiler Atomic Force Microscope Stage

High Resolution Z Stage

The direct drive’s Z stage controls motion down to 330 nm, assuring optimal tip approach. Software controls for the Z stage rapidly move the light lever up and down and regulate the automated probe approach.

Sample Stage

The NP AFM has multiple stage options, including a 2x3 inch manual stage with a resolution of 2 µm, and a sample stage for wafers and discs.

Light Lever Force Sensor

An industry standard light lever force sensor is utilized in the NP AFM. Most commercially available AFM probes are accommodated in the probe holder. The light lever force sensor can make measurements in standard modes, including vibrating, non-vibrating, lateral force, and phase mode.

Video Microscope

The high resolution video microscope has a zoom tube which allows a field of view between 2 X 2 mm and .3 X .3 mm. The video microscope is essential for aligning the light lever laser, locating features for scanning, and facilitating tip approach.

XY Piezo Scanner

For XY scanning, linearized piezo electric ceramics utilize real-time feedback control to assure accurate measurements. The multiple modified tripod design (MMTD) of the xy scanner provides scans with minimal background bow.

Probe holder

A modular probe holder is used in the light lever force sensor and held in place with a spring clip. Probes can be replaced in less than two minutes with the NP AFM’s probe exchange tool.

Diagram of NP Atomic Force Microscope stage

NP AFM-4012 Stage

The NP AFM-4012 Stage is designed to accommodate many sample shapes and sizes. The stage comes with a holder for 6 standard AFM magnetic disks. Custom sized sample holders may be readily designed and added to the stage.

Atomic force microscope stage for wide variety of sample sizes and shapes


NP AFM-4022 Stage

Wafers and discs up to 8” in diameter are accommodated by the NP AFM-4022 stage. The vacuum chuck has a unique design that holds the samples firmly while also enabling quick adjustments to accommodate varying diameters of sample sizes. There is a “two-tiered” translation system to locate features for AFM imaging.

NanoProfiling AFM vacuum stage

Screws with o-ring seals are provided and allow selection of the correct vacuum chuck diameter.



Electronics in the NP AFM are constructed around industry standard USB data acquisition electronics. The critical functions, such as xy scanning, are optimized with a 24-bit digital to analog converter. With the analog z feedback loop, the highest fidelity scanning is possible. Vibrating mode scanning is possible with both phase and amplitude feedback using the high sensitivity phase detection electronics.

24-bit Scan DAC

Scanning waveforms for generating precision motion in the X-Y axis with the piezo scanners are created with 24 bit DACS driven by a 32 bit micro controller. With 24 bit scanning, the highest resolution AFM images may be measured. Feedback control using the xy strain gauges assures accurate tracking of the probe over the surface.

Phase and Amplitude Detector Circuit

Phase and amplitude in the Ebox are measured with highly stable phase and amplitude chips. The system can be configured to feedback on either phase or amplitude when scanning in vibrating mode.

Signal Accessible

At the rear of the Ebox is a 50 pin ribbon cable gives access to all the primary electronic signals without having to open the EBox.

Precision Analog feedback

Feedback from the light lever force sensor to the Z piezoceramic is made using a precision analog feedback circuit. The position of the probe may be fixed in the vertical direction with a sample-and-hold circuit.

Variable Gain High Voltage Piezo Drivers

Improved signal to noise ratio, as well as extremely small scanning ranges, are possible with the variable gain high voltage piezo drivers.


Electronic Box for Atomic Force Microscope


NP AFM Software

Software for acquiring images is designed with the industry standard LabVIEW™ programming visual interface instrument design environment. There are many standard functions, including setting scanning parameters, probe approach, frequency tuning, and displaying images in real time. LabVIEW™ facilitates rapid development for those users seeking to enhance the software with additional special features. LabVIEW also enables the NP AFM to be readily combined with any other instrument using LabVIEW.

Atomic Force Microscopy Prescan Window for NP AFM

Pre-scan Window

A pre-scan window includes all of the functions that are required before a scan is started. The functions are presented in a logical sequence on the screen.


NanoProfiling AFM Scanning Software window

Scan Window

Once all of the steps in the pre-scan window are completed, the scan window is used for measuring images. Scan parameter, Z feedback parameters, and image view functions may be changed with dialogs on this screen.


Nano-Profiling AFM Force Distance Curve Window

Force/Distance Curves

There is a tab for measuring F/D curves in the AFMWorshop software. Data is exported to a .csv file for analysis in standard programs such as Microsoft Excel™.


LabVIEW software window for Atomic Force Microscope

LabVIEW Window

Industry standard programming environment. Readily customized and modified for specialized applications. Instrumentation already using LabVIEW can be added to the NP AFM to create new capabilities.



AFM Image Analysis Software

Included with the NP AFM is the Gwyddion open source SPM image analysis software. This complete image analysis package has all the software functions necessary to process, analyze and display SPM images.

AFM Image Analysis Software Menu

  • visualization: false color representation with different types of mapping
  • shaded, logarithmic, gradient- and edge-detected, local contrast representation, Canny lines
  • OpenGL 3D data display: false color or material representation
  • easily editable color maps and OpenGL materials
  • basic operations: rotation, flipping, inversion, data arithmetic, crop, resampling
  • leveling: plane leveling, profiles leveling, three-point leveling, facet leveling, polynomial background removal, leveling along user-defined lines
  • value reading, distance and angle measurement
  • profiles: profile extraction, measuring distances in profile graph, profile export
  • filtering: mean, median, conservative denoise, Kuwahara, minimum, maximum, checker pattern removal
  • general convolution filter with user-defined kernel
  • statistical functions: Ra, RMS, projected and surface area, inclination, histograms, 1D and 2D correlation functions, PSDF, 1D and 2D angular distributions, Minkowski functionals, facet orientation analysis
  • statistical quantities calculated from area under arbitrary mask
  • row/column statistical quantities plots
  • ISO roughness parameter evaluation
  • grains: threshold marking and un-marking, watershed marking
  • grain statistics: overall and distributions of size, height, area, volume, boundary length, bounding dimensions
  • integral transforms: 2D FFT, 2D continuous wavelet transform (CWT), 2D discrete wavelet transform (DWT), wavelet anisotropy detection
  • fractal dimension analysis
  • data correction: spot remove, outlier marking, scar marking, several line correction methods (median, modus)
  • removal of data under arbitrary mask using Laplace or fractal interpolation
  • automatic xy plane rotation correction
  • arbitrary polynomial deformation on xy plane
  • 1D and 2D FFT filtering
  • fast scan axis drift correction
  • mask editing: adding, removing or intersecting with rectangles and ellipses, inversion, extraction, expansion, shrinking
  • simple graph function fitting, critical dimension determination
  • force-distance curve fitting
  • axes scale calibration
  • merging and immersion of images
  • tip modeling, blind estimation, dilation and erosion
NP AFM Video Microscope

A video optical microscope in an AFM serves three functions: aligning the laser onto the cantilever in the light lever AFM, locating surface features for scanning, and facilitating probe approach. The NP AFM includes a high performance video optical microscope along with a 3 camera, light source, microscope stand, and Windows software for displaying images.

TT AFM Video Optical Microscope shows test structureHere the video optical microscope allows viewing features on a test structure. The AFM cantilever is on the right. Three images show results of areas selected for AFM scanning.

NP AFM Video Microscope on HOPGThe video optical microscope zooms in to show an HOPG sample surface and the AFM cantilever.

7 to 1 Mechanical Zoom

NP AFM laser alignment through video microscope

NP AFM laser alignment through video microscope

With a 7:1 mechanical zoom, it is possible to use a large field of view to locate features for imaging. It is then possible to zoom in to get very high resolution video microscope images.


NP AFM Introduction from AFMWorkshop on Vimeo.

NP AFM Probe Holder

The NP AFM utilizes a unique probe holder/exchange mechanism. Probes are held in place with a spring device that mates with a probe exchange tool. This combination makes changing probes fast and easy on the NP AFM..

AFM Probe Holder/Exchange

NP AFM Image Gallery

Patterned Wafer Analysis

An atomic force microscope is a very high resolution stylus profiler capable of making several types of measurements on processed wafers. The following is an example of measurements on a patterned wafer that was polished by CMP.

Below is a video microscope image of a the region where the three measurements are made. Also visible in the video microscope image is the cantilever; the red is from the laser used in the AFM force sensor. The regions where measurements are made are identified as 1, 2 and 3 in the video microscope image.

video microscope image of patterned wafer and AFM cantilever

Region 1 - Visualization

Scanning on the square identified as region 1 results in the AFM image illustrated below. At random locations in the image there are pockmarks, not visible in the video microscope image. By zooming in with the AFM, we can see in the right image that the pockmarks have debris at their edges. The width of the pockmarks is about 90 nm and the depth is 10nm.

AFM scan revealing pockmarks, .5 µm x .5 µm

Region 2 - Surface Texture

Scans of region 2 do not show noticeable surface structure, as was observed in region 1. A 3-D color scale image of region 2 is shown below. The surface roughness (Sa) of this region is 1.69 nm which is 10 times greater than the noise floor of the AFM used for generating this image.

10 µm x 10 µm AFM scan showing surface roughness of patterned wafer
Average value: 15.43 nm
Minimum: 7.12 nm
Maximum: 29.85 nm
Median: 15.39 nm
Ra (Sa): 1.69 nm
Rms (Sq): 2.11 nm
Skew: 0.135
Kurtosis: 0.05
Surface area: 100.166 μm²
Projected area: 100.000 μm²
Inclination θ: 0.0 deg
Inclination φ: -71.8 deg

Region 3 - Step Height Measurements

Region 3 is a series of lines that are about 1 µm wide, and are visible in the video optical microscope. An AFM image of these lines is illustrated below. Using a histogram of the AFM image the height of the lines is readily measured to be 43 nm.

Atomic force microscope scan of patterned wafer 1 µm lines and histogram for height of 43 nm


NP AFM Modes

Modes included with the NP AFM:

Non-Vibrating (contact) In non-vibrating mode the deflection of the cantilever is held constant as the sample is scanned. This mode is used for hard samples, and for training purposes.
Vibrating (tapping) A piezoelectric ceramic is used to vibrate the cantilever at resonance. The amplitude of vibration is held constant as the sample is scanned. Both soft and hard samples are scanned with vibrating mode.
Phase While scanning in vibrating mode and holding the cantilever vibration amplitude constant, the phase shift between the drive signal and photo-detector are displayed. The phase image gives a map of the relative hardness at a sample's surface.
Frictional Force With the 4 segmant photodetector in the TT-2 AFM the L-R signal can be captured and displayed while scanning.
Advance F/D The advanced forc distance modes software allows force mapping, making curves from a non-feedback position, and controlling the inbound and outbound rates.
Dunk-n-Scan With the dunk-n-scan liquid cell, images of samples submerged in liquids can be made.

Optional NP AFM Modes:

The following modes may be purchase as options with the NP-AFM.

Conductive AFM (C-AFM)

Magnetic Force Microscopy (MFM)


Scanning Thermal Microscopy (SThM)

Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM)

Electric Force Microscopy (EFM)

NP AFM Options

Dunk and Scan

Open vessel probe holder used for scanning samples submerged in a liquid.

Education Samples

Package of four samples that can help students learn how to operate an AFM, and can help new AFM operators learn various AFM Applications

Conductive AFM

Measures the 2-D conductivity of sample surfaces.


Measures the surface magnetic field of a sample.


Uses an AFM probe to alter the physical or chemical property of a sample surface.

Advanced Force Distance Curves

Measures the deflection of a cantilever as it interacts with a surface. Monitors parameters such as: Adhesion, Stiffness, Compliance, Hardness, and Contaminate Thickness.

NP AFM Specifications

40 Micron XY Scanner
Type Modified Tripod
XY Linearity < 1%
XY Range > 40 µm
XY Resolution < 3 nm closed loop
< 0.3 nm open loop
XY Actuator type Piezo
XY Sensor type Strain Gauge

16 Micron Z Scanner / Probe Holder
Noise < 0.2 nm
Strain Gauge Resolution 1 nm
Tip Angle 10 °
Z Linearity < 5%
Z Linearity-Sensor < 1%

7 Micron Z Scanner / Probe Holder
Noise < 0.12 nm
Strain Gauge Resolution na
Tip Angle 10°
Z Linearity < 5%

Light Lever AFM Force Sensor
Probe Types Industry Standard
Probe Insertion Manual
Probe Exchange Tool
Probe Holding Mechanism Clip
Vibrating Mode Piezo
Electrical Connector to Probe
Laser/Detector Adjustment Range +/- 1.5 mm
Adjustment Resolution 1 µm
Minimum Probe to Objective 25 mm
Laser Type 670 nm Diode, < 3 mW
Laser Focus <25 µm
Type 4 Quadrant
Band Width > 500 kHz
Signals Transmitted TL, BL, TR, BR
Gain Low, High Settings
Probe sample angle 10 degrees

Digital Data Input Output
Connection USB
Scanning DAC  
Number 2
Bits 24
Frequency 7 kHz
Control DAC  
Number 2
Bits 14
Frequency 2 kHz
Number 8
Bits 16
Frequency 48 kHz

Z Motion
Type Direct Drive
Range 25 mm
Drive Type Stepper Motor
Min. Step Size 330 nm
Slew Rate 8 mm/minute
Limit Switch Top, Bottom
Control Software – Rate, Step Size

Analog Electronics
Vibrating Mode  
Freq Range 2 kHz – 800 kHz
Output Voltage 10 Vpp
Demod. Freq TBD
Z Feedback  
Type PID
Bandwidth > 3 kHz
Sample Hold Yes
Voltage 0-150 V
XY Scan  
Voltage 0 – 150 V
Bandwidth > 200 Hz
Pan & Zoom 22 Bits
Tip Approach Cutoff < 20 µ sec.

Environment LabVIEW
Operating System MS Windows
Image Acquisition Real Time Display
(2 of 8 channels)
Control Parameters  
Setpoint Yes
Range Yes
Scan Rate Yes
Image Rotate 0 and 90°
Laser Align Yes
Vibrating Freq. Display Yes
Force Distance Yes
Tip Approach Yes
Oscilloscope Yes
Image Store Format Industry Standard
Image Pixels 16 x 16 to 1024 x 1024
H.V. Gain Control XY and Z
Real Time Display Line Level, Light Shaded,
Grey Color Palette
Calibration System Window
Probe Center Yes

Video Microscope


Minimum Zoom
Maximum Zoom
Field of view
2 x 2 mm
300 x 300 µm
20 µm
1.5 µm
Working Distance
114 mm
114 mm



  • Industry Standard Computer & Monitor (laptop available upon request)
  • MS Windows
  • AFMWorkshop LabVIEW .exe installed
  • Video Microscope software installed


NP AFM-4012

Overall XY Range 2” x 3” (5 mm x 7.6 mm)
Resolution 3 µm
Max. Sample Size 6” x 6” x 1/2”
(150 mm x 150 mm x 12 mm)


NP AFM-4022

  • 8” (200 mm) Diameter Vacuum Chuck
  • Linear Range – 4” (100 mm)
  • Rotational Range – 360 degrees
  • Secondary Manual XY – 1/4” (6 mm)
  • Vacuum Required

*Z Noise performance depends greatly on the environment in which the NP AFM operates. Best Z noise performance is obtained in a vibration free environment. Contact AFMWorkshop for more information about our vibration isolation products and recommendations.

** Every effort is made to present accurate specifications, however, due to circumstances beyond AFMWorkshop’s control, specifications are subject to change.


NP AFM Product Datasheet PDF

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AFMWorkshop stands behind its products. We offer a two year return to factory warranty with every AFM we offer.



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