Long Scanning

There are many AFM applications where the scan size exceeds 10 µm while characteristic size of the surface features is larger than 30 nm. For these applications, the lateral resolution is of less importance compared to other characteristics of AFM probes such as mechanical durability and ability of contamination. Furthermore, many AFM applications require blunt tips to allow quantitative measurements of various physical properties of the sample (friction, indentation, adhesion).

Fig. 1. Height image of polystyrene-polybutadiene-polystyrene triblock copolymer. Scan obtained in Tapping mode using LS probe tip with radius about 30 nm. Image courtesy of S. Magonov (Bruker).

Contact mode

Long Scanning probes offer larger tip-sample contact area resulting in higher loads exerted to sample. However, these probes can still be used in Contact mode on hard samples.

Contact electric techniques may require cantilevers with higher spring constants than in regular Contact mode (up to 50 N/m). Relatively soft (0.03 - 0.3 N/m) conducting cantilevers are optimal for higher lateral resolution. Cantilevers with higher spring constant are better for quantitative measurements.

Tapping mode

The choice of probes with hardened DLC coated tips (series HARD) with a radius of < 20 nm is reasonable for routine surface investigations of large surface areas (> 10 µm) with surface features larger than 20 nm in size. Here, HARD probes provides resolution comparable to General Purpose probes and Hi'Res-C probes. HARD probes also allow long-term experiments due to the enhanced mechanical durability.

For imaging in liquids, probes with a chemically stable Cr-Au coating can be used. The tip radius with a coating on the tipside is below 35 nm.

To image electric properties of materials using two-pass techniques, probes with conducting coatings are needed. The coatings may increase the probe tip radius up to ~ 40 nm depending on the selected series. The Pt coated probes with a tip radius < 30 nm offer the best compromise between resolution and durability.

The probe tip radius with Co-Cr magnetic coating is below 60 nm. As the size of magnetic domains is usually more than 50 nm, this is such a tip radius is enough for MFM.


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contact mode

Topography imaging in air
Hardened probes with wear-resistant coating
HQ:CSC17/Hard/Al BS

In aggressive liquid media
Probes with chemically stable coating

tapping mode

Hard samples in air
Hardened probes with wear-resistant coating and high force constant
HQ:NSC15/Hard/Al BS

Soft samples in air
Hardened probes with wear-resistant coating and medium force constant
HQ:NSC15/Hard/Al BS

Under aggressive liquid medium

Probes with resonance frequency 50-70 kHz having chemically stable coating

Mapping of electric properties
Probes with conducting coating

Mapping of magnetic properties
Probes with magnetic coating
HQ:NSC18/Co-Cr/Al BS

multiple modes

Probes with four different cantilevers
HQ:XSC11/Hard/Al BS