AFM Workshop


Standalone AFM
Open design for maximum flexibility

Because the probe on the SA AFM extends below the stage structure the SA AFM is capable of scanning all sizes and shapes of samples. The SA AFM includes a direct drive Z approach motor, high resolution on axis video microscope, linearize pizo XYZ scanner, and an industry standard light lever.

Price Range*
$41,340.00 -
* Prices vary depending on options purchased, importation taxes, and installation - training fees.

Click to Submit Inquiries or Questions


SA-AFM Details

Video Microscope
Probe Holder
SA AFM Overview
Open Frame Design Any sized sample can be scanned
Includes bottom plate Allows for scanning small samples
Probe Exchange Tool Included Reduce time for probe exchange
Includes top view video microscope Facilitates tip approach and laser alignment
Includes vibrating, non-vibrating, phase, LFM, and advanced F/D Most common scanning modes included for many applications
Flexible Sample holder Can be used with most commercially available probes
Labview software with USB communication Readily adaptable to new operating systems
Pricing From  $41,340.00*
*Plus selected Z Scanner 
Download: SA AFM Product Datasheet PDF
3-D model of SA AFM


Overview: Stand-Alone Atomic Force Microscope (SA AFM)

Use the SA AFM for scanning almost any size and sape of sample. The stage can sit on top of an inverted microscope, a large structure, or on the optional xy sample stage. This tip scanning unit has an linearized XY scan range of 40 microns, and two different Z ceramics: a 7 micron high resolution Z scanner, and a large motion 17 micron Z scanner.

Advanced Features of the SA AFM Include:

  • Flexible, stand alone design
  • Scans any sample size
  • Adaptable to inverted microscopes
  • Linearized xy piezoelectric scanner
  • Accommodates widest range of standard AFM probes
  • All standard modes, including vibrating, non-vibrating, and phase
  • Direct drive motorized probe approach
  • Intuitive LabVIEW-based software for image capture

Using the industry standard light lever force sensor, all standard scanning modes are included with the system. 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.

Control software, written in LabVIEW, is simple and intuitive to use. Differing windows walk users through the process: a pre-scan window helps align the AFM probe, a scanning window aids in acquiring images, a force position window measures force distance curves, and finally, a system window assists in altering system parameters.

More Details about the SA AFM

To read more about the SA AFM, return to the top of the page and click on the various tabs detailing the SA AFM and its Stage; Ebox; Software; Video Microscope; Probe Holder; Modes; Options; Specifications; and Images.

SA AFM 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.

Light Lever Force Sensor
An industry standard light lever force sensor is utilized in the SA AFM. The probe holder accommodates the widest range of commercially available AFM probes. 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 Piezoelectric Scanner
For XY scanning, linearized piezoelectric 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 probe exchange tool. Additionally, the probe holder spring clip can be used to supply voltages to the AFM probe for techniques such as conductive AFM.


SA AFM Stage

SA AFM Stage

Large objects that will not fit in a traditional stage may be imaged with the SA AFM. In this example, the monitor of a commercial AFM is being imaged.




Electronics in the SA 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 feed back on either phase or amplitude when scanning in vibrating mode.

Signal Accessible
At the rear of the eBox is a 50 pin ribbon cable that gives access to all of 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
An improved signal to noise ratio as well as extremely small scan ranges are possible with the variable gain high voltage piezo drivers.




SA 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 SA AFM to be readily combined with any other instrument using LabVIEW.

Prescan Windows

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.


Scan 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.


Force/Distance Curves

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 Window

LabVIEW Window

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



Image Analysis Software

Included with the SA 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.



  • 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
SA 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 SA AFM includes a high performance video optical microscope along with a 3 camera, light source, microscope stand, and Windows software for displaying images.

SA 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.

SA 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

SA AFM laser alignment through video microscope

SA 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.


SA AFM Introduction from AFMWorkshop on Vimeo.

SA AFM Probe Holder

The SA 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 SA AFM.

Probe Holder/Exchange

SA AFM Image Gallery

SA AFM Measurements

In addition to measuring surface structure, the SA AFM is ideal instrument for modes measurements. 

For example these images are of a polymer sample.  The image at left is a topography image, and the image at right is the phase image, measuring the relative hardness of the polymer sample.

AFM System topography image AFM system measuring of the relative hardness of the polymer sample



Surface Texture

SA AFM 2 pm measuring of semiconductors and other micro-fabricated devices

 Polished Surface - 30 x 30 x 5 µm


Surface texture on polished and machined surfaces is readily measured with the SA AFM. With the SA's flexible stage design, fixtures for holding almost any sample shape can be created. Once measured, the AFM images can be analyzed and standard surface texture parameters such as Ra are readily calculated.


SA AFM 2 pm measuring of semiconductors and other micro-fabricated devices

 Calibration reference - 40 x 40 x 1 µm


Atomic force microscopes are capable of accurately measuring the dimensions of semiconductor and other micro-fabricated devices. Because the SA AFM accommodates commercially available AFM probes, specialized probes for metrology measurements can be used.



cells SA AFM-PM

Cells - 8 x 8 µm

One of the most powerful capabilities of the SA AFM is the capability to visualize surface structure. Although not easily quantified, the surface texture of this cell structure is readily visualized.

Features that may be readily visualized with the SA AFM range in size from a few nm to a few µm.

SA AFM Modes

Modes included with the SA 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.

Z Scanner for Liquid Imaging

Diagram of liquid imagingDunk-n-Scan cell for liquid imaging of samples

Optional SA AFM Modes:

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

Conductive AFM (C-AFM)

Magnetic Force Microscopy (MFM)


Scanning Thermal Microscopy (SThM)

Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM)

Electric Force Microscopy (EFM)

SA AFM Options

XY Sample stage

The optional base with XY translator gives added flexibility to the SA AFM. By removing the inverted light microscope, noise floors as low as 100 picometers are achievable. The XY translator range is 12 X 12 mm with a resolution of 1 micron. At the top of the XY translator are magnets for holding standard AFM sample disks.

SA with translator

Vibration Solution

Inverted Light Microscope

Performance of the SA AFM is greatly improved with the acoustic enclosure combined with an active vibration table. The option includes:

- Acoustic Cabinet
- Active Vibration Table
- Base


The following modes are available for the SA AFM:

Conductive AFM (C-AFM)

Magnetic Force Microscopy (MFM)


Scanning Thermal Microscopy (SThM)

Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM)

Electric Force Microscopy (EFM)

SA AFM Specifications

40 Micron XY Scanner
Type Modified Tripod
XY Linearity < 1%
XY Range > 40µm
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

Environment LabVIEW
Operating System Windows 7
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)
  • Windows 7
  • AFMWorkshop LabVIEW .exe installed




SA AFM graphics 4 pm

Back and side view of the SA AFM stage without the AFM/video microscope. The feet at the bottom may be removed if the stage is rigidly mounted to a surface.

* Z Noise performance depends greatly on the environment in which the SA AFM is used. Best Z noise performance is obtained in a vibration free environment.

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


SA AFM Product Datasheet PDF

Our Guarantee

AFMWorkshop provides a 100% money back guarantee. If our AFM's can't run your application, we will refund the full price*.

* see terms

Our Warranty

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



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