SurfaceChar LLC
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Sharon, MA 02067
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Laboratory-based AFM Curriculum:

Atomic force microscopy to make nanoscale material and topographic measurements of materials

This comprehensive all-inclusive curriculum introduces students to the technology and instrumentation of atomic force microscopy.  The background of the hardware and operating principles is reviewed, including the main modes that will be used in the labs:  contact mode, tapping mode, and force spectroscopy.  Important applications of atomic force microscopy are discussed in the context of the laboratory assignments.  Image processing, using the freeware Gwyddion, is used for various analyses associated with the labs. The curriculum contains a pre-lab quiz and then analysis/questions for further discussion for each individual laboratory (the answers are provided in the accompanying Teacher Manual). This curriculum has been developed in conjunction with AFMWorkshop.  Aside from the AFM instrument, no other material or parts are necessary!



  • Learn about the basic operating principle behind atomic force microscopy
  • Understand and operate the main basic modes of AFM:  contact mode, tapping mode, force spectroscopy
  • Operate an AFM to measure topography and compositional differences of a sample on the nanoscale
  • Conduct basic analysis on images including statistics and cross-sectional measurements


  1.  30 page Student Guide.  Covers the background of AFM operation, modes, and application.  Provides a step-by-step series of labs on contact mode, tapping mode, and force spectroscopy.  This section also includes a pre-lab quiz for students as well as suggested analysis questions to be answered in the lab report writeups.
  2. Accompanying Teacher Manual.  Accompaniment to student guide, assists teacher/teaching assistant to help students through labs. Includes answers to the pre-lab quiz and detailed answers with sample images to all the suggested analysis questions.
  3. AFM probe kit.  A series of 8 probes with various spring constants  to be used in the curriculum.
  4. AFM sample kit.   A series of 4 prepared, mounted samples ready to be inserted into the AFM instrument. Students are guided through experiments on these samples. 


  1. Measuring roughness of thin films
  2. Measuring compositional heterogeneity of everyday material
  3. Metrological measurements
  4. Probing mechanical properties of a substrate

Target Audience: This curriculum has been developed for undergraduate students in any science or engineering background:  biology, chemistry, physics, materials science, mechanical engineering materials engineering, etc.  Familiarity with freshman level mathematics and physics concepts is assumed, but all concepts and theory related to atomic force microscopy are explained.  

AFM Curriculum Price $995