scanning probe microscopescanning probe microscopehow to select scanning probe microscope

Image Credit: Renishaw | Polytec, Inc. | Park System, Inc.

 

Scanning probe microscopes (SPM) form images of surfaces by using a physical probe that scans the specimen. The microscope enables the imaging of surfaces at the nanometer scale. SPM uses a fine probe that is scanned over a surface. Since the device does not use a beam of light or electrons, there is no restriction by the wavelength of light or electrons. The technique can resolve atoms and create 3D maps of surfaces.

 

scanning probe microscopes

Scanned probe techniques. Image Credit: nanoScience Instruments

 

Application

Specialty microscopes application types include life sciences, gemology and metallurgical microscopes, tool making, forensics, and semiconductor inspection.

Biological / life science

These types of microscopes might include those that transmit light or environmental scanning electron microscopes (SEM).

Gemological
 

These microscopes often use polarized light with lower magnifying powers to allow for brighter, sharper images, combined with a wide field of view. 

Measuring / toolmaker
 

These microscopes are often used for dimensional measurement with lower magnifying powers to allow for brighter, sharper images combined with a wide field of view. 

Medical / forensic
 

These microscopes are often hands-free, binocular microscopes with lower magnifying powers to allow for brighter, sharper images combined with a wide field of view. 

Metallurgical
 

Often metallurgical microscopes are inverted for viewing the bottom of a sample with lower magnifying powers to allow for brighter, sharper images combined with a wide field of view. 

Semiconductor inspection
 

Microscopes used to study the layers in a semiconductor wafer or fabricated IC component.  This inspection calls for greater precision and throughput. 

 

Scanning Microscope Type

SPM is a general term describing a number of techniques that use a sharp probe to scan over a surface and measure a property of that surface. There are many types of scanning microscopes that all function under a similar principle as the atomic force microscope. The names and acronyms of these microscopes can be seen in the table below.

 

Atomic force microscopes (AFM)can be used to image any type of surface, including polymers, ceramics, composites, glass, and biological samples. AFMs use a laser which is reflected from the back of the reflective AFM lever and onto a position-sensitive detector. Proper imaging is done using the forces between the tip and the sample. The force is calculated by measuring the deflection of the lever, and knowing the stiffness of the cantilever. The equation used is given by Hook's law, F= -kz, where F is the force, k is the stiffness of the lever, and z is the distance the lever is bent.

 

3D Atomic Force Microscopy Video.

Video Credit: Mikeadams1311

 

Acronym

Microscope Name

AFM

Atomic Force Microscope.

BEEM 

Ballistic Electron Emission Microscope. 

CFM 

Chemical Force Microscope. 

C-AFM

Conductive Atomic Force Microscope. 

ECSTM 

Electrochemical Scanning Tunneling Microscope. 

EFM

Electrostatic Force Microscope. 

Fluid FM 

Fluidic Force Microscope. 

FMM

Force Modulation Microscope. 

FOSPM

Feature-Oriented Scanning Probe Microscope. 

KPFM 

Kelvin Probe Force Microscope. 

MFM 

Magnetic Force Microscope. 

MRFM 

Magnetic Resonance Force Microscope. 

NSOM 

Near-Field Scanning Optical Microscope. 

PFM 

Piezoresponse Force Microscope. 

PSTM 

Photon Scanning Tunneling Microscope. 

PTMS 

Photothermal Microspectroscopy Microscope. 

SCM 

Scanning Capacitance Microscope. 

SECM 

Scanning Electrochemical Microscope. 

SGM 

Scanning Gate Microscope. 

SHPM 

Scanning Hall Probe Microscope. 

SICM 

Scanning Ion-Conductance Microscope. 

SPSM 

Spin Polarized Scanning Tunneling Microscope. 

SSRM 

Scanning Spreading Resistance Microscope. 

SThM 

Scanning Thermal Microscope. 

STM 

Scanning Tunneling Microscope. 

STP 

Scanning Tunneling Potentiometer Microscope. 

SVM 

Scanning Voltage Microscope. 

SXSTM 

Synchrotron X-ray Scanning Tunneling Microscope.

 

Resources

Overview of Scanning Probe Microscopy Techniques

Atomic Force Microscopy