CoreAFM — The Essence of AFM in a Compact System

Nanosurf’s CoreAFM is a compact, cost-effective research AFM that offers a combination of functionality and simplicity by integrating the key components of AFM to realize versatility and user-friendliness.

Compact and Complete

The CoreAFM is a fusion of an advanced flexure-guided scanner, XYZ sample stage, camera, a fully digital 32-bit controller, and acoustic shielding in a single all-in-one unit. This results in a comprehensive AFM system with an unmatched compact footprint.

All of the key functions of an advanced AFM are in-built components of the CoreAFM system, so only USB and connecting power are required for a fully operational CoreAFM.

A closed scanner compartment features acoustic and air current isolation, while sample stage positioners still allow you to adjust your sample

When the scanner compartment is opened, it provides access to the scanner and sample stage, e.g. to place a new sample for measurement

Powerful and Versatile

Advanced electronics with 24-bit ADC and DAC enable high-resolution XYZ driving of the 100 × 100 × 12 µm scanner and enables low-noise force detection limited only by the cantilever. There are 32 standard and optional modes with fully compatible add-ons that make the CoreAFM an ideal tool for applications, spanning from materials research to electrochemistry and life science. Starting from the standard CoreAFM system, its functionality can be flawlessly broadened.

A deeper system integration of the Isostage is seen in the innovative SpikeGuard, which prevents glitches during imaging. Although the Isostage is an active vibration isolation system, glitches can still occur when distortions are drastic. SpikeGuard spots these types of anomalies and rescans the line for images with no distortion.

Included Measurement Modes

The CoreAFM can perform Static force, Phase imaging, Dynamic force, Lateral force, MFM, Force modulation, Standard spectroscopy and Standard lithography out of the box.

Core AFM mode kits can also be utilized to enhance the measurement experience.

Standard Mode Kits

The CoreAFM by default come with the dynamic force, static force, and phase imaging mode kits to assist users to get started immediately. Based on the measurement mode, a mode kit may include samples, activation keys, appropriate cantilevers, or a combination of components.

Supplementary standard-level mode kits that can be obtained separately are the standard lithography kit, standard spectroscopy kit, standard liquid kit, standard MFM mode kit, force modulation kit, and lateral force mode kit.

Advanced Functionality

Advanced AFM modes and functionality such as environmental control, sample heating, scripting, and others can effortlessly be added to the CoreAFM.

System Specifications

The following table provides the scanner specifications:

Max. scan range (XY) 100 µm < 5 nm flatness
Max. height range (Z) 12 µm closed loop
Detector noise (RMS) typ. 60 pm max. 100 pm
Sensor noise (RMS) typ. 180 pm max. 250 pm
Dynamic noise (RMS) typ. 40 pm max. 70 pm
Static noise (RMS) typ. 100 pm max. 200 pm


The following table provides the controller specifications:

Scan control and inputs 24-bit ADC/DAC 200 kHz
Digital lock-in (2×) 16-bit ADC/DAC 20 MHz
User in/out, Excitation in 24-bit ADC/DAC 5 MHz, 10 V
Digital sync 2-bit line/frame sync out 5 V, TTL
Thermal tuning 10 Hz – 2 MHz
FPGA, 32-bit CPU, 256 MB RAM programmable USB 2.0


Value for Money

Cables and connectors between the scanner and controller, extra controller casing, camera housing, acoustic shielding, etc. are not required due to the minimalist and integrated design approach of the CoreAFM. This also ensures that every remaining component is important to its function.

Example of the thought and design processes that went into the development of the CoreAFM and its accessories, all leading to lower overall costs and higher reusability

The CoreAFM and its accessories have been designed as part of a consistent system concept. The result is an integrated, superior-quality, versatile, and high-performance AFM system that offers the leading price-to-performance attribute in the market. An atomic force microscope that is user-friendly, robust, and easily extendable.

Primary Add-On Functionality

  • Isostage 300H - Active vibration isolation table with innovative SpikeGuard feature
  • Conductive AFM mode option - Offers a conductive cantilever holder and current measurements from 10 nA - 100 µA to facilitate electrical AFM modes
  • Advanced MFM option - Adds a twofold pass contour-following mode to enhance MFM/EFM imaging quality
  • Basic FPM option - FluidFM®-compatible cantilever holder to allow the use of FluidFM® probes from Cytosurge
  • Temperature control package - Has a sample holder and temperature controller to heat samples from room temperature up to 120°C
  • Signal I/O option - Extension for user-defined experiments (digital sync output, 24-bit ADC/DAC, deflection/friction signal outputs, Z-feedback on user input, and excitation input)
  • Petri dish option - Sample holder for liquid or bio applications that use Petri dishes
  • Scripting interface option - Enables LabView, AFM control via scripts, and other programming languages that support Microsoft COM automation
  • Environmental control option - the sample environment can be controlled by a sealing ring and a flexible enclosure between scanner and sample holder
  • Advanced lithography option - Integrates the nano-printing mode and the option to read CAD vector data for lithography
  • Electrochemistry option - A sample holder with special designed cell and electrode pads facilitates electrochemical AFM experiments
  • Advanced spectroscopy option - Integrates the possibility for large spec maps, spec curve process stop-by-value, real-time spec map analysis, and pause times

Secondary Add-On Functionality

  • EFM mode kit - Offers a sample for KPFM and EFM measurements
  • Advanced PFM option - Enables a secondary lock-in to measure piezo forces while imaging
  • Advanced KPFM option - Enables a secondary lock-in and tip voltage feedback controller to measure Kelvin forces while imaging
  • Advanced conductive AFM option - Sample holder with integrated current pre-amplifier for low current measurement - down to pA range
  • Nano-thermal analysis option - Offers the cantilever holder, cantilevers, and electronics to perform local heat dissipation measurements
  • Bio sample heater option - Adds heating electronics to the Petri dish option to enable heating of fluids up to 45°C
  • Scanning thermal microscopy option - Offers the cantilever holder, cantilevers, and electronics to perform SThM
  • SICM option - Integrates a low-current, low-noise pre-amplifier and accessories that facilitate scanning ion current imaging to improve resolution on soft materials in liquid
  • Advanced FPM option - Integrates a FluidFM microfluidics control system from Cytosurge to facilitate pressure controlled FluidFM experiments
  • FluidFM nanolithography - Allows users to perform nanolithography by dispensing liquids to develop µm-sized structures
  • FluidFM spotting - Allows users to perform spotting by supplying liquids in the sub-femtoliter range
  • FluidFM colloidal spectroscopy - Allows users to perform colloidal spectroscopy in large measurement series through quickly exchangeable spheres

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