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Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) Laboratory
What is Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM)?
The Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) is a microscope with a local probe, high resolution to visualize the topography of the surface of a sample but also the tribology, the mechanical, electrical or chemical behavior.
This method allows to analyze point by point the surface of the sample thanks to the scanning of a probe made of a nanometric tip. This microscope thus offers the possibility of studying objects on a very small scale.
Indeed, the very principle of microscopic study is to rely on light. However, once in the universe of the infinitely small (less than a few hundred nanometers), the observation conditioned to light becomes impossible since the limit of resolution is about 100µm. AFM allows to overcome these limits since this type of microscopy works by measuring the attractive or repulsive interactions between the tip of the AFM and the surface of the sample. The resolution of the AFM is 1Å or 0.1 nm laterally and vertically.
FILAB laboratory analyses the surfaces of your samples by AFM
Depending on the physico-chemical parameters sought, several AFM configurations can be used:
- AFM : to characterize all types of materials, to measure roughness parameters, elasticity, adhesion, friction, and surface energy properties…
- The SMM : ‘Scanning Microwave microscopy’ is an AFM coupled with microwave spectroscopy. The tip serves as a local microwave (gigahertz) transmitter and receiver, it allows a non-destructive topographic and tomographic analysis while keeping the essential property of the AFM: the nanometric resolution. MMS allows to characterize all types of materials, to measure microstructural changes, to identify the presence of buried defects, to measure sub-surface mechanical stresses, to determine diffusion profiles of light elements (oxygen, nitrogen and even hydrogen!) while being non-destructive… It’s a revolution!
- The UA-AFM is an AFM coupled with acoustic spectroscopy. Based on the same principle as ultrasound, it allows tomography at the nanometric and micrometric scales to characterize all types of materials while being non-destructive like MMS. Sensitive to density variation, it allows to reconstruct in 3d the first micrometers of a surface to identify inclusions, defects that can be a source of corrosion or breakage…
- IR-AFM: is an AFM coupled with infrared spectroscopy. This technique based on the photothermal effect induced by laser illumination allows to obtain a chemical mapping of the surface with a nanometric resolution.
Example of benefits by AFM
Search for conductivity or electrical permittivity defects (semiconductor)
Thickness measurement of a non-destructive deposit on the surface of a part
Diffusion profile of light elements (oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen...) in non destructive mode (equivalent to NRA)
Search for buried defects (inclusions, crystallization defects,)
Tomography with nanometric resolution
Local mechanical measurement in the context of a non-conformity or part inspection
Checking the homogeneity of a deposit or a surface functionalization