AFMs for Educators
Atomic Force Microscopes are key nanoscale measurement instruments facilitating nanotechnology developments in all disciplines of science and engineering. There is a substantial and growing demand by students as well as professionals for AFM Education and training. AFMWorkshop has considerable advantages for both groups of learners.
Educators generally have one or more of the following three objectives in mind when designing their AFM Education and Training programs for students. The types of AFMs needed - and the dollar amount budgeted for their purchase - vary depending upon which objective the educator wants to accomplish.
- Expose Students to the Nano World – Educators who fall within this category seek to expose students to an atomic force microscope by showing them what an AFM looks like and how it operates. Students learn that it is possible to create a magnified view of a surface with a scanning tip. Typically a few samples are imaged during this exposure time so that students directly see the nanometer-sized features on a surface. In this group, students are generally exposed to the AFM for a few hours.
- Train Students to Operate an AFM - This group of educators is focused on training students how to operate the AFM and how to use the instrument for measuring images of several types of samples. Students are exposed to the basic operation of the Atomic Force Microscope, including how the instrument scans and how the feedback control works. This educational experience prepares the student for operating AFM instruments in research and industrial environments. This training can last anywhere from one week to an entire semester.
- Build Student Career Potential – Educators within this category seek to prepare students for a career in instrumentation design or instrument customer service. This is accomplished in part by helping students understand the design and construction of an Atomic Force Microscope. This group may include an additional category of researchers who intend to modify or repair their own instruments. Students will build their own AFMs and learn how to measure images on standard reference samples. A one week intensive 40 hour course can accomplish this group's objective.
AFMWorkshop offers instrumentation and training materials to meet the demands of all three educational groups.
One of our most popular instruments used in educational settings is the TT-AFM. Because the TT-AFM is similar to 99% of the Atomic Force Microscopes used in research labs throughout the world, students can use skills developed on the TT-AFM to operate AFMs with more complex instrumentation. On a TT-AFM, students learn how to operate all of the key modes such as contact, vibrating, lateral force, and phase modes. For example, the TT-AFM and AFMWorkshop was selected as instrument and trainer of choice by Hiroshi Yokoyama, Ph.D., director of Kent State University's Glenn H. Brown Liquid Crystal Institute.
Said Dr. Yokoyama: "I'd like to provide students with a good opportunity to expose themselves to advanced analytical tools because knowing how to operate an AFM is important to pursue a science and technology career. Almost everywhere there's a lab, AFM is there.
"Our graduates are supposed to be able to operate an AFM from day one," Yokoyama continued. "Now we have five sets of AFMs [TT-AFMs] and a technical training course for undergraduate and graduate students on campus. It's quite unique, and the number of students participating is increasing."
Yokoyama added: "I'm hoping that by having five AFMs available for our students and researchers, they will begin to know the really hard core details of the instrument, learn new techniques and think of entirely new opportunities that nobody else has ever thought of.
AFMWorkshop can work with your institution to create your own optimal training program.
AFM Training Programs
The ultimate in comprehensive knowledge of Atomic Force Microscope design and function can be gained through AFMWorkshop's TT-AFM Assembly Workshop. Participants build their own AFM and participate in numerous workshops on AFM theory, operation, and applications. Attendees learn the components of an Atomic Force Microscope, how an AFM operates, key AFM design points, light lever design, scanner design/construction, and how to maximize image signal-to-noise ratio.
AFMWorkshop's five-day AFM Applications Workshop provides access to an AFM for each attendee for extensive hands-on labs. Participants spend time in group lectures on the theory of Atomic Force Microscopy, and put theory into practice by preparing and measuring images for a wide variety of metallurgic and life sciences samples. Participants have time for expert guidance in troubleshooting their particular applications.
For more information on creating a tailored workshop to meet your students' needs, please contact AFMWorkshop.
Gaining the Most from Your AFM Seminars
AFMWorkshop provides a series of free live-streaming seminars for educators and professionals. Key skills to help all AFM users gain the most from their AFMs are covered, including: effective utilization of image processing software; techniques for successful sample preparation; detecting artifacts; selecting the right probes. To register for the seminars, visit AFMWorkshop's UStream channel.
Animated AFM Tutorials
How do you help new Atomic Force Microscope users to quickly maximize their productivity on the instrument? AFMWorkshop provides 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 AFM images, 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 only a few angstroms of resolution.
Concepts essential to understanding how to optimize AFM performance, such as the design of piezoelectric scanners, light lever design, probe sample interactions, and feedback control can be readily understood by the AFM user and are clearly illustrated in AFMWorkshop's Animated AFM Tutorials
Unique to AFMWorkshop's Animated AFM Tutorials is their starting point in the basic ideas of each topic. For example, in the section of animations describing the "Design of the Light Lever AFM," we:
- first show that a photodetector can convert photons to electrical energy;
- then demonstrate how 2 photodetectors are used to create a position-sensitive detector;
- finally show how the motion of a cantilever is measured with a light lever.
Researchers, educators, and students around the globe have voiced their appreciation for the unique and immediately useful knowledge communicated through the AFMWorkshop animated tutorials.
The book Atomic Force Microscopy, written by Drs. Peter Eaton and Paul West and published by Oxford University Press, is available from Amazon.com, or Oxford University Press. Atomic Force Microscopy has become the leading text for AFM education and is a great resource for both professionals and students. Click Here for more information.
AFMWorkshop customers have access to a complete library of PowerPoint® presentations, including over 500 slides on subjects ranging from AFM image analysis, instrument design, quantitative AFM measurements, and Atomic Force Microscope image artifacts. These presentations may be used for teaching courses to undergraduate and graduate students. Additionally, a trained instructor from the AFMWorkshop is available to lead a three day course derived from these PowerPoint® presentations.
The Importance of Time and Training for AFM Success
Pick up any scientific journal or click through a website and you'll see beautiful images produced by scientists and engineers on atomic force microscopes. What's not so easy to see is the amount of time and effort that went into producing these amazing images.
Training, education,and time on the instrument are the keys to successful AFM imaging. Although basic operation of the instrument is straightforward, acquiring beautiful nano-scale images like those seen in scientific publications requires theoretical knowledge as well as actual practice time on the instrument.
AFMWorkshop is committed to helping our customers develop the strong AFM skill sets necessary to produce world-class AFM images.