AFM Systems

Atomic Force Microscopy user facility

The AFM systems are available for collaborations and industry projects.

Full details on our AFM instruments, available accessories, sample specifications, etc. are hosted by the IMS alongside other major instruments and capabilities offered to our collaborators and customers.

Additional details about necessary sample configurations are displayed below, including pictures with length scales of each sample mount to be sure specimens are appropriately sized.

The AFM techniques tab shares examples of the AFM variations with which our labs have particular and often novel expertise.

Sample Considerations

  • Must be mounted as follows:
    • Area of interest must be centered
    • Samples must be attached to instrument-dependent substrates (glass slide, magnetic disc)
    • Attachment typically via cyanoacrylate, Ag print, or double sided tape (most reclaimable, but worst for resolution).
  • Must fit into the system
    • Images below provide top down views in the microscopes, demonstrating wide variations depending on the tool
    • Max dimensions are thoroughly summarized here for each instrument
  • Must be reasonably flat
    • Area of interest must be accessible from above by the AFM probe
    • Height variation in imaging area of interest typically must be less than 1-10 μm (system dependent)
  • Must consider probe-surface interactions and the geometry of the tip
    • Avoid samples with very high adhesion, viscous specimens, high porosity, etc.
  • Must consider necessary environmental conditions
    • in vitro imaging is sometimes feasible
    • Temperature or humidity control is available for certain circumstances
    • Some systems may be operated with a gas overpressure (N2, Ar)

Asylum Cypher ES/VRS


  • Environmental chamber
  • Video-rate Imaging
  • Limited space for samples
  • more details here

Asylum Cypher S


  • Advanced techniques
  • Increased speed and stability
  • Gas purge: N2 and Ar
  • more details here

Asylum MFP-3D I/O


  • Inverse optical microscope w/fluorescent shutter system
  • 3D image stack capability
  • more details here

Asylum MFP-3D