Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) analysis provides images with near-atomic resolution for measuring surface topography. AFM is also referred to as Scanning probe microscopy. Atomic Force Microscopy is capable of quantifying surface roughness of samples down to the angstrom-scale. In addition to presenting a surface image, AFM analysis can also provide quantitative measurements of feature sizes, such as step heights and other dimensions. Additionally, advanced modes of atomic force microscopy measurements allow for the qualitative mapping of various other physical properties, such as adhesion, modulus, dopant distribution, conductivity, surface potential, electric field, and magnetic domains.
In contact mode AFM, the tip is scanned in contact with surface, and a Laser is reflected off the cantilever. The light position is detected on a photodiode. A constant position is maintained by adjusting the cantilever height with a voltage. The voltage is the output signal and relates to the topography.
In tapping mode AFM the cantilever is oscillated. Forces between the tip and sample cause changes to the oscillation . A feedback loop maintains constant oscillation amplitude by adjusting tip height with a voltage applied to a piezo element. Applied voltage relates to topography with minimal damage to surface and tip. Tapping mode AFM is the common mode for topography imaging.
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