AFM Workshop

Conductive AFM (C-AFM)

An option for the TT-2, NP and SA AFM. The C-AFM measures topography and conductivity images simultaneously. This option allows measuring current-voltage (I/V) curves at specific locations on a surface.

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Model: CA-2011

Conductive Atomic Force Microscope diagramAFMWorkshop's Conductive-AFM (C-AFM) accessory provides surface conductivity images when used as an accessory with the TT-2 AFM, NP, SA, or LS AFM.

The C-AFM creates images showing pixel-by-pixel conductivity. Conductivity is measured using any DC voltage (from -10 to +10 volts) with currents ranging from picoamps to 10 microamps.

The C-AFM measures topography and conductivity images simultaneously. This option allows measuring current-voltage (I/V) curves at specific locations on a surface.


Download Conductive AFM PDF


(Below) Images of a test pattern measured with the C-AFM option. At the left is a topography image and at the right is the conductivity image. The features labeled 1 and 2 had a conductive path to ground, and thus were visualized in the conductivity image.

Conductive AFM Images

Technical Descriptions

Below, a block diagram depicts the functionality of the Conductive AFM circuitry.

Conductivity is measured by applying a fixed DC bias voltage between the probe and the sample, and then by measuring the resulting current.

The preamplifier is an I/V circuit, i.e. a current-to-voltage converter. It has 3 gains selected by a small slide switch on the preamplifier circuit board. These gains are designated "low", "med" and "high".

Conductive AFM circuitry

Multiplying the measured voltage from the C-AFM with the Scaling Factor (provided in the specifications section of this document) yields the current. Dividing the current by the applied voltage yields conductivity in mhos, or conversely, dividing the applied voltage by the measured current yields resistance in ohms.

The preamplifier circuit can be configured so that a fixed DC bias voltage is applied to the probe while the sample is held at ground, or the DC bias can be applied to the sample while the probe is held at virtual ground. In the former case, the DC bias voltage range is ±5 volts.

Included with the C-AFM:

  • Conductive Probes
  • Preamplifier/Probe Holder
  • Reference Sample
  • Cables
  • Sample Holder with Clips
  • Manual

The current-to-voltage circuit is mounted directly on the probe carrier for optimal signal to noise performance. Wires go directly from the PC board to the probe and to the sample.

Conductive AFM probe carrier

At the back of the electronic control box are connectors for a 50 pin ribbon cable, a USB cable, a cable to the preamplifier, and an extra DAC output BNC.

Conductive AFM Back of E-Box

Software for the C-AFM option is written in LabVIEW™. VI's for the application are available to customers who want to modify the user interface. The application allows changing the bias on the sample and monitoring the current between the probe and surface.

Conductive AFM software interface


Probes Bias

  • Conductive Probe Model
  • Length
    225 μm
  • Width
    30 μm
  • Thickness
    3 μm
  • Tip Height
    14-16 μm
  • Tip Radius
    < 30nm
  • Force Constant
  • Resonant Frequency
  • Coating
    Pt/Ir (Both sides)




Preamplifier Gains

Full Scale
10 uA
2u A/V
0.5 MΩ
20 MΩ
250 nA
20 MΩ
10 nA
2n A/V
500 MΩ

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