Atomic Force Microscopy

Atomic force microscopy is a technique for analysing the surface of a rigid material all the way down to the level of the atom. AFM uses a mechanical probe to magnify surface features up to 100 000 000 times, and produces 3D images of the surface. The technique is derived from a related technology, called scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM). The difference is that AFM does not require the sample to conduct electricity, whereas STM does. AFM also works in regular room temperatures, while STM requires special temperature and other conditions. AFM is being used to understand materials problems in many areas including data storage, telecommunications, biomedicine, chemistry, and aerospace.

The atomic force microscope was invented in 1986. It uses various forces that occur when two objects are brought within nanometres of each other. An AFM can work either when the probe is in contact with a surface, causing a repulsive force, or when it is a few nanometres away, where the force is attractive.

The Institute of Nanotechnology (IoN) - Великобритания. Glossary of Terms.

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