AFM Master Class: On-demand

The essential short course for reasearchers using atomic force microscopy

Welcome to the AFM Master Class, your comprehensive guide to mastering the powerful technique of Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM). This carefully curated course is designed to elevate your understanding and practical skills in AFM, from its foundational principles to advanced applications.

The course is composed of eight expert-led sessions. We start by introducing AFM as a high-resolution nanoscale characterization technique. Next, we delve into 3D topography imaging and phase imaging for material contrast, followed by a detailed exploration of AFM's electrical modes. We then guide you through image processing techniques for AFM images and discuss critical calibration methodologies to enhance the accuracy of your AFM measurements.

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The latter part of the course focuses on the intricacies of force spectroscopy, explaining the measurement and analysis of force curves. Lastly, we introduce WaveMode, the groundbreaking photothermal off-resonance tapping mode, which provides fast imaging under gentle conditions for all samples.

Whether you're new to the field or a seasoned professional seeking to update your knowledge, the AFM Master Class is tailored to provide you with the essential theoretical foundations, practical tips, and real-world examples to master AFM. The AFM Master Class was streamed as a series of live webinars in 2022/2023 and is now available for you to download on-demand.

Overview of curriculum

Session 1: Why use AFM?

This session introduces AFM as a surface characterization technique and describes it in the context of other high-resolution nanoscale characterization methods. We discuss when it is appropriate to use AFM as a characterization technique in terms of information provided and sample requirements.

Session 2: Best practices for topography imaging

This session provides an overview of the most common application of AFM, which is to image 3-D topography of a sample on the nanoscale. This session introduces the most common imaging modes and focuses on best practices to help users obtain the highest quality topography images.

Session 3: Phase imaging for material contrast

Phase imaging is currently the most popular AFM mode to obtain material contrast on a sample. This session includes a discussion of what it is exactly that the phase measures, and how it is useful, both as an imaging mode and as an important indicator for topographic imaging.

Session 4: Overview of electrical modes

AFM is a powerful tool to characterize a variety of material properties, with electrical properties being chief among them. This session covers the key AFM modes to measure a variety of electrical properties including surface potential, piezoelectric properties and conductivity.

Session 5: Image processing for AFM images

All AFM images require initial processing such as flattening or plane fitting. This session explains these basic image processing steps as well as some additional useful image processing such as histograms, 3-D overlays, and masking. Specific examples are shown using MountainSPIP software.

Session 6: Calibrations for AFM measurements

For certain quantitative measurements, calibrations of key AFM parameters such as cantilever spring constant and sensitivity are critical. This session  reviews the different methodologies for conducting the various calibrations.

Session 7: Force spectroscopy

Probably the most common AFM mode to measure mechanical properties such as modulus and adhesion is force curves, also known as force spectroscopy. This session discusses what a force curve measures and the different models available for force curve analysis.

Session 8: WaveMode

The first commercial photothermal off-resonance tapping mode was launched as WaveMode in February 2022. This session delves into WaveMode and details its fast imaging under gentle conditions for all samples in all environments.

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