FAQs about Atomic Force Microscopes from AFMWorkshop

  • Why are the prices of AFMWorkshop products considerably lower than other Atomic Force Microscopes? +

    We designed AFMWorkshop's atomic force microscopes from the ground-up, with a goal of creating an AFM that would be both useful for demanding nanotechnology research and affordable.

    Hardware: Before any component was added to our microscope design, it was thoroughly analyzed to assure a low manufacturing cost. Our design is also elegantly simple, and this is why customers can build their own TT-AFM in our Workshops.

    Software: Substantial cost savings are associated with AFMWorkshop software. By using Gwyddion open source image processing software, we avoided all of the costs commonly associated with developing proprietary image processing software. Additionally, our image acquisition software is based on the widely used LabVIEW software, further reducing product development time and cost.

    Electronics: AFMWorkshop's atomic force microscope electronics utilize commonly available chips. For example, the chip driving the Z motor is the same chip used to raise and lower the front window of a popular automobile. The ADC/DAC card is an off-the-shelf purchase from National Instruments, resulting in considerable development and manufacturing savings.

    Business Expenses: In addition to our passing on savings through the intentional high-value design of our AFMs, we built a business model with much lower overhead operating expenses than other Atomic Force Microscope instrument companies. This method of operating presents our customers with an even greater value for their instrument expense dollar.

  • Do the cost savings result in design compromises on AFMWorkshop Atomic force Microscopes? +

    The simple answer to this question is, no. For example, standard features on the TT-AFM include: closed loop scanners, a high resolution video microscope, and scanning modes such as vibrating, non-vibrating, phase and LFM. Our ADC/DAC card, which collects data displayed on the computer monitor, is 14 bits. By adding 16 stages of gain in our Z control circuits, we are able to provide a large dynamic range as well as high sensitivity. In fact, we are able to achieve a Z resolution of nearly 0.1 nm with a 17 micron Z ranged scanner.

  • Can the TT-AFM really measure nano-scale surface features? +

    The TT-AFM can measure anything that has been measured on other commercially available microscopes. For the highest resolution images, it is crucial to optimize scanning conditions, ensure adequate vibration isolation, and properly prepare samples. Below are two images which demonstrate the Z and X-Y resolution of the TT-AFM.

    Nano Scale Surface Nano Scale Surface
    This 500X500 nm image is of 1 nm and 3 nm nanoparticles, demonstrating the XY resolution of the TT-AFM. At the center of the image is a 100 nm particle. This 2 X 2 µ image of Si terraces demonstrates the Z resolution of the TT-AFM. Each color in this image represents a 0.3 nm atomic step.


    No matter the conditions of the scanning environment or of the sample, if you are not properly trained on the instrument operation, you will not be successful in measuring high resolution images. That's why the AFMWorkshop routinely offers workshops for customers to learn how to assemble, operate and troubleshoot with their microscopes.

  • Does the AFMWorkshop have Customer Service? +

    Yes, AFMWorkshop has a top-rate customer service program. If you have a problem with your instrument, we have a process of troubleshooting with you. Our first request reviews the operational training of the person requesting service. It is important for the caller and/or the company customer service technician to work directly with the instrument user who received training on the instrument's operation. Next, we try to solve the problem over the phone. If this phase is not successful, we schedule a session to operate your instrument remotely via the internet. If this session is not successful, we will request that you ship all, or part of, the atomic force microscope back to the factory for repair. Repairs typically take one week or less. If we are unable to return the instrument after one week of repair time, we will notify you of the delayed timeline prior to your shipping the instrument to the factory.

  • What is your warranty? +

    Customers utilizing their AFM within North America receive a full two year return to factory warranty on AFMWorkshop Atomic Force Microscopes.  Customers utilizing their AFM outside of North America receive a year return to factory warranty. This warranty covers the entire instrument including the computer. Please read our FAQ on customer service.

  • Do you provide software upgrades? +

    Yes. Additionally, because our software uses LabVIEW in a Microsoft Windows environment, our software is easily ported to new Windows versions at minimal expense.

  • Do you have a publications list? +

    AFMWorkshop products were introduced to the market in late 2010 and our customer base is growing. While it typically takes several years for customers to produce publications based on research generated by a new AFM, we have a rapidly growing list of publications citing AFMWorkshop instruments.

    In addition to reviewing the publications list, we suggest that you make your decision to purchase our AFMs by looking at images on our web site, talking to our customers, and reviewing alternatives.  We offer a 100% money back guarantee that the AFM you purchase from AFMWorkshop can run your application. Dr. Paul West, founder of AFMWorkshop, authored a leading textt on Atomic Force Microscopy now published by Oxford University Press. His patents and products, designed for and purchased by other major AFM instrument corporations, are in use by thousands of researchers around the world.

  • What kind of probes are used in your Atomic Force Microscopes? +

    Our AFMs use industry standard probes. We recommend the probes from Applied Nanostructures, however, probes from other manufacturers are compatible and work with AFMWorkshop instruments.

  • Will my warranty be voided if I make modifications to the instrument? +

    AFMWorkshop Atomic Force Microscopes have an open architecture and we welcome instrument innovators to purchase our products. If you modify our instrument and inadvertently damage a part, we will work with you to help fix the problem. However, if the instrument is routinely broken we will need to receive compensation for repairs.

  • Do you have references for your AFM's? +

    Yes, we have many customers who will share their experience with our products if you require a reference. Some of our customer's logos are also included on our web site for your review.

  • Do you have an academic/business/AAA/family...etc... discount? +

    We offer a great product at an amazing price. Our instruments are pre-discounted and our prices are listed on this web site. Other instrument manufacturers subject you to a quote process and charge different prices to different clients. It is a common practice to artificially raise prices for instruments in order to offer “discounts.” It is also a common practice to offer discounted “demo” units that were returned to the factory because they have intermittent and unresolved problems. AFMWorkshop offers high-value, haggle-free microscopes and provides discounts only for multi unit purchases.

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