Basic Atomic Force Microscope For routine scanning and education
The B-AFM is a complete system that includes a computer with software, a stage, and control electronics; everything needed for AFM scanning. The electronics are located at the rear of the B-AFM stage, and only a single USB cable is connected between the computer and the stage. For scientists and engineers with bigger ideas than budgets.
* Prices vary depending on options purchased, importation taxes, and installation - training fees.
The B-AFM 7-Step Scanning Software is designed for casual AFM users that want to obtain AFM images without the expertise. A user-friendly design makes the B-AFM ideal for teaching students the basics of AFM theory and operation.
Intuitive Light Lever Design
A unique design of the light lever makes aligning the system a routine procedure for users with limited experience. A removable probe holder makes changing probes quick and easy.
Linearized X, Y, and Z Scanners
Piezoelectric X, Y (50 µm) and Z (17 µm) scanners incorporate strain gauges that provide linear scans and rapid zoom-to-feature capabilities.
Standard AFM Scanning Modes
Scanning modes for the B-AFM include vibrating (tapping), non-vibrating (contact), phase, and LFM (Force/Distance). These modes will allow users to scan the most common types of samples.
The B-AFM is encased in an acoustic cabinet made from ¾” MDF and acoustic foam, creating a vibration isolation environment that will provide high-quality scans on almost any lab bench.
The B-AFM is ideal for educating students on the theory, operation and applications of an atomic force microscope. One of the advantages of the B-AFM for education is the open design of the light lever force sensor.
Routine scanning of samples that are not challenging to scan is a common application for the B-AFM. If a noise floore below 300pM is required, we suggest purchasing the AFMControl software and a vibration table.
The B-AFM is designed with an integrated stage and electronics, making it a compact and portable solution for researchers and engineers.
Simplified Key Operational Steps
Aligning the AFM light lever
A unique feature of the B-AFM light lever is that the probe is moved to a pre-established position identified with the video optical microscope, therefore removing inaccuracy when aligning the laser.
With the removable probe holder, probes can be exchanged in less than a minute. A special support is provided for holding the probe holder when it is not in the light lever force sensor.
Samples mounted on metal disks are held in place with a magnetic holder at the top of the piezoelectric stage.
Key Components of the B-AFM
Video Optical Microscope
Included with the stage is a video optical microscope with 200X magnification. The video optical microscope is used for locating features on samples for scanning, aligning the light lever, and facilitating probe approach. LED lights at the bottom of the video microscope illuminate the sample.
XY Sample Stage
The location on a sample can be selected for scanning with the XY positioner mechanism, with a range of 6 x 6 mm. The controls for the XY positioner are located conveniently inside the acoustic enclosure on the surface of the AFM stage.
Both structural and acoustic vibrations are reduced with the front opening enclosure. The enclosure is made from high-density material and is lined on the inside with noise reducing foam. Handles on the sides of the enclosure make transporting the AFM easy.
The control electronics circuits in the B-AFM are the same as those used in over 250 AFMs by AFMWorkshop customers globally, ensuring reliability. The electronics include a high fidelity analog control loop for measuring topography, and 24-bit scan DACs for driving the X and Y piezoelectric ceramics. Our unique design offers high resolution as well as a high dynamic range.
The B-AFM software is designed for casual users that want to obtain high-quality AFM images without being AFM experts. Furthermore, the B-AFM is great for teaching students the basics of AFM operation and training.
7 Step Scanning Software
Get an AFM Image in 7 Steps
At the left side of the B-AFM Control software is a list of the 7 steps necessary for measuring an AFM image. By moving through each of the steps, an operator is able to easily obtain AFM images. When one of the steps is selected, the specific window that is required is highlighted. Instructions for each step are provided at the top of the screen.
Gwyddion Image Processing Software
Images created with the B-AFM are compatible with the free image processing software Gwyddion. Gwyddion is capable of displaying images in 2D and 3D formats in a vast range of pallets. Additional analysis capabilities include line profiles and surface texture measurements.
B-AFM Video Microscope
The B-AFM is equipped with an adjustable focus video microscope with 200X zoom. This optical video microscope is used to locate areas of interest on the sample, as well as align the laser to the cantilever.
Video optical microscope
Field of view showing probe chip and aligned cantilever
B-AFM Probe Holder
The probe holder for the B-AFM is designed to hold a probe chip using a small spring clamp. The unique design makes it easy to exchange probes and load the probe holder. Once secured into the B-AFM, the probe holder is held in place to scan the sample.
Inserting probe holder into the B-AFM
B-AFM Image Gallery
1. B-AFM images of a DVD disc
Upper Left: 20 X 20 micron image of a DVD disc presented in color scale.
Upper Right: 5 X 5 micron image presented in color scale by addition of topo and error signal.
Lower Left: Line profile of two DVD bits, showing the bit width of 413 nm. The region of the line profile is designated by the red line in the top right image.
2. B-AFM images of a Blue Ray Disc
Upper Left: 20 X 20 micron image of a Blue Ray disc. The image is presented in light shaded mode.
Upper Right: 5 X 5 micron image presented in color scale.
Lower Left: Line profile of three Blue Ray bits, showing the bit width of 218 nm nm. The region of the line profile is designated by the blue line in the top right image.
3. Phase image of polymer
The following images are of dried 1 part epoxy paint.
Top Left – 2 micron X 2 micron topography image of the epoxy paint sample. Physically the sample is very smooth. The surface texture (Ra) is 35 nm.
Top Right – Phase image shows that the sample two separate phases. The phases separations are homogeneous across the sample.
Bottom Right: The size of one of the phases is 72 nm in width as measure in this line profile.
4. Polished Copper
A piece of copper is polished first with 800 grit sandpaper (top left image), and then with 2000 grit sandpaper (top right image). By direct visualization of the surfaces, the specimen polished with the 800 grit paper appears much courser than the surface polished with the 2000 grip paper. This observation is born out in the surface texture calculation. The Ra for the top left image is .189 microns, and the Ra for the top right image is .097 microns.
5. Aluminum Foil
Aluminum foil if manufactured using a rolling process. This is accomplished in a rolling mill, where the material is passed several times through metal rolls called work rolls. As the sheets (or webs) of aluminum pass through the rolls, they are squeezed thinner and extruded through the gap between the rolls. At the end of the process, one side of the foil is smooth and appears shiny, and the other side of the foil is rough and appears dull.
Contact mode AFM image of the shiny side of a piece of aluminum file.
Contact mode AFM image of the dull side of a piece of aluminum foil.
Standard with every B AFM are non-vibrating (NV) mode and vibrating (V) modes for making topography scans. Additional modes included with the product are lateral force imaging as well as phase mode imaging. All of the scanning modes that can be implemented with a light lever AFM are also possible with the B AFM.
Vibrating mode (tapping) is the most common mode for measuring topography images with an AFM. Probe/sample forces as small as a few piconewtons are possible with vibrating mode.
In Non-Vibrating mode (contact), topography images are measured with a cantilever/probe having a very low force constant. Non-vibrating mode is most often used for large area scans on hard materials.
Phase Mode images, measured simultaneously with vibrating mode images, show regions of different relative hardness on a sample's surface. Phase mode is especially useful when scanning polymer samples.
Lateral Force Mode
Using a four quadrant detector, the torsion of the cantilever is measured during a non-vibrating mode scan. The amount of torsion depends on the friction between the probe and sample while scanning.
The interaction forces between a probe and surface are measured with F/D mode. In this mode, the deflection of the cantilever is measured as the sample is moved towards the probe.
Magnetic Force Microscopy - Measure magnetic fields above a surface with this option which includes magentic probes.
Electric Force Microscopy - Electric fields are measured with this mode with the aid of a conductive AFM probe.
Conductive AFM – Measure the current between a conductive probe and a surface.
Write nanoscale patterns with the AFM probe.
Measures force/distance curves from a feed back and not feedback condition, allows force mapping.
There are several options available for the B-AFM. These can be purchased with the system or added at a later date.
MFM, EFM, C-AFM, Lithography Advanced F/D.
100 micron scanner
The B-AFM can be upgraded to 100 X 100 micron XY, 17 micron Z scanner.
This is the same software used for the TT-AFM and includes several advanced features required for more advanced applications.
With a vibration table the Z noise of the B-AFM can be reduced to < 150 picometers.
*Adding the AFMControl Software and Vibration table greatly improves the performance of the B-AFM for applications that require measuring and visualizing surfaced features with only a few nanometers in size.