SmartSPM 1000 - A New Fully Motorized Scanning Probe Microscope (SPM) by AIST-NT

Topics Covered

SmartSPM 1000 - A New, Fully Motorized Scanning Probe Microscope
Advanced Scanning Procedures
Fast High Quality Scanning
Atomic Resolution with 100x100 Micron Scanner


For the recent years Scanning Probe Microscopy (SPM) has proved to be the extremely successful technique for characterization of different nano-sized objects. SPM plays the important role in the outburst of scientific and commercial activities defined by the term"nanotechnology". As a great number of applications for the SPM-based research are becoming more and more diverse and complex, new challenges and demands arise for the SPM instrumentation. Unfortunately, still the adjustment of the most modern SPMs iscomplicated, time consuming and very much operator-dependant. This drawback leads to poor reproducibility of the instrument settings and consequently to poorly reproducible results.

SmartSPM 1000 - A New, Fully Motorized Scanning Probe Microscope

AIST-NT Inc. has developed a new, fully motorized AFM, SmartSPM 1000, which allows to perfectly align a cantilever, laser and photodiode by just one click on a command button. The scanning settings and landing parameters are also automated that allows to avoid any time consuming adjustment operations, thus leaving more time to researcher for designing the experiment and performing more accurate measurements.

Figure 1. Automated, one-click laser-to-cantilever alignment.

Another unique feature of AIST-NT's SmartSPM 1000 is the capability to map the distribution of the oscillation amplitude along the cantilever. After the map is acquired, operator can choose the most appropriate position of the laser spot on the cantilever for his measurements. This becomes especially important when a cantilever is excited at higher modes such as in the Figure 2.

The complete automation of the AIST-NT's SmartSPM 1000 setup allows researchers to avoid time consuming and tiresome routine adjustments and concentrate on the experiment itself, measurements and result interpretation.

Figure 2. Distribution map of the cantilever's oscillation at the fundamental (left) and second (right) modes.

Advanced Scanning Procedures

Due to the combination of the low-noise registration system, unique scanner, advanced electronics and smart scanning procedures that incorporated over 100 years of combined SPM research experience, with AIST-NT's SmartSPM 1000 one can perform unique measurements which are extremely difficult, if possible at all, using other SPM instruments.

Figure 3. 130 nm Ag nanoparticles immobilized on the metal surface, 3.6x3.6 um scan.

Extra-safe and at the same time fast landing procedure makes it possible to protect even very sharp tips from any possible damage. Due to the availability of the true non-contact scanning mode one can measure even the most fragile and mechanically sensitive samples. Unique smart scanning procedures allow to obtain high quality images on very challenging objects like 130 nm Ag nanoparticles or modern high density hard drive disks.

Figure 4. High resolution MFM image of Seagate Barracuda 750Gb Hard Drive, ST3750640AS.

Fast High Quality Scanning

One of the unique features of AIST-NT's SmartSPM 1000 is its scanner. Due to our innovative design and flexure guide technology, this scanner with built-in capacitive sensors shows the unmatched performance characteristics (significant scanner natural frequencies come up to 20-30 kHz in XY and up to 35-40 kHz in Z) allowing a significant increase in the scanning speed without sacrificing the image quality. The scanner allows high scan rate imaging of samples with coarse topography features.

The advanced digital controller equiped with the optimized scanning control algorithms allows to decrease the phase lag, overshooting and ringing during the scanning process, making sure that the quality of the image remains the same even at higher speeds.

The novel proprietary MFM imaging mode allows the user to obtain the magnetic profile of the sample at outstanding speed. This MFM image of the magnetic structure of surface domains in Yttrium Iron Garnet (YIG) film was acquired at 10 Hz scan rate.

Atomic Resolution with 100x100 Micron Scanner

Due to very well designed and calculated construction of the AFM and the scanner, SmartSPM 1000's instrument features outstanding mechanical stability, which allows the user to get atomic resolution images with the same 100 micron scanner and at the same time to produce high quality images without vibration isolation tables. This is of extreme importance for the integration of the AFM with the optical facilities on top of an optical table.

Source: AIST-NT

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