AFM Workshop

How do you help new Atomic Force Microscope users to quickly maximize their productivity on the instrument? AFMWorkshop is pleased to provide a series of animations that illuminate key operating principles and efficiently introduce new users to Atomic Force Microscopes.

While minimal training is needed to measure basic images on AFMs, gaining optimal performance requires greater insight into the operating principles and design of atomic force microscopes. This depth of understanding is especially necessary when users need to measure images with a few angstroms of resolution.

Concepts essential to understanding how an AFM operates include: the design of piezoelectric scanners, light lever design, probe sample interactions, and feedback control.

These concepts are now readily understandable through viewing the new Animated AFM Tutorials.Upcoming tutorials will provide insight into vibrating mode scanning, PID feedback control, scanner linearization, and more.

Unique to AFMWorkshop's Animated AFM Tutorials is their starting point in the basic ideas of each topic. For example, in the Design of the Light Lever AFM:

  • we first show that a photodetector can covert photons to electrical energy;
  • then we demonstrate how 2 photodetectors are used to create a position-sensitive detector;
  • and finally we show how the motion of a cantilever is measured with a light lever.

We invite you to check out this new resource. You can also download the tutorials for your use. We'd love to hear your reflections on the efficacy of these tools in your work, please email us with your comments and questions.


Intriguing Applications - Atomic Force Art

"Right side or left side brain, which way do you swing?" Yalda Javadi, Ionic

For some of us, the answer is "both": art and science merge for intriguing results, and occasionally it's within the same brain. Dr. Thomas Learner, Senior Scientist and Head of Contemporary Art Research at The Getty Conservation Institute In Los Angeles, California, has been partnering with scientists and researchers around the world for many years, using AFM and other techniques to further the understanding and practice of modern paint conservation and restoration techniques.

Ph.D. candidate Ana Pereira (Department of Conservation and Restoration, Universidade Nova de Lisboa) recently let us know she used AFMWorkshop's TT AFM to further this knowledge base in a project led by Dr.Maria João Melo, head of the Scientific Laboratory in the Department of Conservation and Restoration.

The Portuguese team investigated whether AFM techniques used by Dr. Learner on acrylic paints could be applied to study surface characterization of vinyl paints. Their work focused on the art of Julião Sarmento and were published in:  AFM in the Conservation of Contemporary Paintings: the Case of the White Paintings of Julião Sarmento. A Pereira, M Melo, P Eaton, S Schäfer and T Learner. Microcopy and Microanalysis, Volume 17, SupplementS2, July 2011 pp 1792-1793.

How did the morphology of Sarmento's white paint withstand the test of time vs. his black paint? What about paints he created and blended himself vs. laboratory reproductions applied to glass micro slides and artificially aged under a xenon irradiation? The TT AFM helped the team produce strong conclusions that correlated with other analytical techniques such as FTIR-ATR and GPC-SEC. Pereira's research using AFM continues, evaluating the impacts of various cleaning techniques on original Sarmento and reproduction vinyl paint samples. 


10µ x 10µ images from A. Pereira's reproductions of Julião Sarmento's paint: PVAc white glue with white pigment lithopone applied to micro slides.


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