AFMWorkshop developed the first truly affordable, quality AFMs beginning in 2010. Since then, almost 400 AFMWorkshop AFMs have been installed around the world. In the USA, prestigious universities such as MIT, UC Berkeley and Stanford chose our product to use as a tool to teach their students. The University of Michigan has four AFMWorkshop TT-AFM units and has taught over 1000 students with our products.
The following provides just a few examples of Educators using AFMWorkshop’s AFM to train students.
Qualified High School students from thirteen nearby schools are able to attend a half-day program, five days a week at the Roanoke Valley Governor’s School for Science and Technology (RVGS), one of 19 Virginia Governor’s Schools.
Mark Levy, Director of RVGS, offers students the use of a TT- AFM if the tool might help advance student research electives, a student-designed month-long research project. Senior Emily Cathey had an idea for a water research project that fit the bill. Emily used the AFM to compare the corrosive effects of different concentrations of chlorine on copper water pipes. She also tested the effect on copper pipes from Roanoke’s tap water as well as the use of phosphate to inhibit chlorine degradation on copper pipes. Emily won several ribbons, prizes and cash funding for her project in various Fairs and exhibits, including an Honorable Mention at the prestigious Virginia State Science and Engineering Fair.
High School Senior Emily Cathey with the TT-2 AFM at Roanoke Valley Governor’s School for Science and Technology
Corroded copper scanned by Emily – dark spots represent developing pits in the metal’s surface
Emily's award winning poster
Using funds from the NSF Center for Chemistry at the Space Time Limit (CaSTL) the Irvine Unified School District purchased an AFM and ran an eight year project. During the project, on an annual basisa group of high school students had the opportunity to construct the TT-AFM and learn how to operate it in a laboratory environment
The Mechanical Engineering Department at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor has a laboratory course that introduces undergraduate students to both optical and atomic force microscopy (AFM).
For the AFM section of the course, the University purchased four TT- AFMs from AFMWorkshop. Their curriculum includes training students how to operate the AFM, how to calibrate the AFM, and how to utilize the AFM to measure mechanical resonances. Each year about 150 students take this six week class; since bringing in the AFMWorkshop AFMs, the University of Michigan Mechanical Engineering Dept has provided over 1000 undergraduate students with a hands-on opportunity to operate an atomic force microscope.
The Mechanical Engineering department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology purchased a TT AFM for use as a development platform for student projects. In a recent project, student Nisal Ovitigala created a haptic interface for the TT-AFM. The haptic feedback controller and accompanying computer visualization application enabled students to “feel and see” the forces an AFM tip experiences as it approaches the surface of a measured sample. These forces are far below our human experience, however they’re critical to understanding AFM performance.
The MIT Learning Engineering and Practice (LEAP) group worked to test the use of the haptic and visualization as a medium for providing information to undergraduate students. In their pre and post assessment research, they found a 55 – 96 % increase in student understanding as a result of the haptic controller. Their idea is to increase this type of virtual hands-on learning to further address the access issues of expensive scientific tools and to aid in the democratization of science.
Howard University uses two TT-AFMs, including one that’s aboard their Nano Express. The Nano Express is a mobile outreach unit that travels the Eastern seaboard on a mission to provide science education to the “K to Grey” population. Gary Harris,( D 2020) conceived of the mobile lab with a goal “to bring nanotechnology to students - real applications on instruments that typically no high school can afford.” Over the years of its operation, Dr Harris estimated the lab shared tools with over 10,000 annually. Here's an article from a few years back detailing AFMs and the Howard Univeristy NanoExpress
Undergraduate students in the advanced physics laboratory course all receive hands-on training on their AFMWorkshop TT-AFM. In addition to learning how to operate the AFM and how to scan standard reference samples, students learn to make noise floor measurements, measure surface interaction forces, evaluate cantilever mechanics, and scan polymer samples.
Dr. Jiang Sheng in the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences at Texas A&M purchased an AFMWorkshp TT2-AFM to support his research into biofilm structure and mechanics. On a routine basis, Dr Sheng includes undergraduates in his research projects and helps them learn the theory and operation of the Atomic Force Microscope.
At Bar-Ilan University, Dr. Aryeh Weiss has both a TT-AFM and a TT-2 AFM in the Advanced Bio-Engineering Teaching Laboratory. During his laboratory course, students use the AFMs and learn to make metrology measurements. This course also includes a thorough module on processing AFM images. Dr. Weiss purchased the TT-AFM in 2013 and the TT-2 in 2017. Almost ten years and hundreds of students later, the TT-AFM remains a robust and practical tool for students to gain experience using “new” state of the art technology.
In South Korea students at multiple universities can take a course entitled “Research Instrument Engineer Training Support Program" which includes training on ten scientific instruments necessary for advanced and industrial applications. The South Korean system considers this as a pre-training for graduate school or for industrial jobs that require advanced knowledge of complex scientific instrumentation. The AFM portion of the course utilizes an AFMWorkshop B-AFM as well as a TT-2 AFM. Students learn all the basics of AFM theory, sample preparation and handling, image processing as well as how to conduct advanced experiments such as C-AFM and lithography. This class also trains students on the basic design principles of their AFM, and together the students work to assemble and repair their AFMs.
South Korean students learning AFM
Atomic Force Microscopes (AFMs) are the most accessible platform for educators who want to help students understand the importance of visualizing, measuring and manipulating nanostructures. AFMWorkshop's unique combination of hands-on AFM tools and AFM education resources can greatly assist students who anticipate careers in variety of STEM fields.