Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) traces the topography of samples with extremely high resolution by recording the interaction forces between the surface and a sharp tip mounted on a cantilever.
The sample is scanned under the tip using a piezo-driven scanning-stage and the topography is displayed as an image. Atomic Force Microscopy provides spatial information parallel and perpendicular to the surface with resolution in the nm range. In addition to topographic high-resolution information, local material properties such as adhesion and stiffness can be investigated by analyzing the tip-sample interaction forces.
Surface topography imaging on the nanometer scale
Minimal, if any, sample preparation
Ease of use in air and liquids
Various AFM modes available for e.g. advanced surface properties imaging