The smallest AFM for custom integration

  • Ideal for custom integration
  • Automate serial measurement
  • Copes with large, heavy, or curved samples
The surface morphology is an important property for many high-tech surfaces with features that can go down to a few nanometers and surface roughness below the nanometer. With AFM such features can be readily analyzed under ambient conditions. Most AFMs are limited in the type and size of samples they can handle. The NaniteAFM by Nanosurf is the market leading solution for AFM integration with least restriction to the sample dimensions. The NaniteAFM has a tip-scanner, two inspection video cameras and an on-board approach motor in an exceptionally small footprint. It contains everything needed to operate independently, paving the way for easy integration: All you need is 300 cm3 in space and a stable docking site to

Save time thanks to optimized ease of use

The NaniteAFM uses a dovetail mounting plate at the back to allow quick and reproducible mounting. The use of cantilevers with alignment grooves makes laser alignment unnecessary. For integration this guarantees a well-defined offset between the cantilever tip and other components of a setup, for example an indenter. This exceptional accuracy allows switching between the components without searching for the right area, thus reducing off-time and handling during experiments.

The Nanite AFM’s easy mounting system

The Nanite AFM’s easy mounting system

The integrated topview camera with 2 µm lateral resolution gives a perfect overview of the surface to localize the areas of interest on the sample and position them under the cantilever. The convenient sideview camera shows the sample under the cantilever at an angle of 45 degrees. It guides the user during the initial fast approach to within a few tens of micrometers of the sample before the AFM takes over for the final automatic approach.

Topview/sideview camera images (1 and 2), optical and AFM image of indent (3 and 4)

Automation of measurements and analysis

To further minimize the operator time, NaniteAFM can be automated. Through the use of a scripting interface and batch measurement procedures, it is possible to automatically approach and measure samples. The analysis and report generation can also be automated using pre-defined pass-fail criteria. This is particularly powerful in combination with a motorized stage, so multiple areas of a sample or multiple samples can be measured autonomously without operator interference.

The integration capability allows NaniteAFM to handle virtually any sample. Large or heavy samples are no problem, because the NaniteAFM moves while the sample remains in position. Depending on the type of sample, motorization is applied to the tip or the sample, or to both. If a standard solution is not available for your sample, a highly skilled team of engineers and scientists is available to design a custom solution that perfectly fulfils your requirements. Even measurements at different angles can be performed with the appropriate stage.

With automated measurements on large sample in mind, this high-load, high-precision, and low-noise translation stage pushes the boundaries of sample stage performance. A pneumatic lift/lock mechanism ensures easy travel when lifted and stable measurements when locked. Large travel ranges and heavy-duty integrated active vibration isolation complement the setup.

This custom-built translation stage was constructed to allow roughness measurements on large concave and convex samples. It features full 360° manual rotation of the sample platform and automated rotation of the scan head to accommodate the curved form of the various samples. Learn about other projects we have realized in the custom solutions section.

Quantitative surface analysis at the nanoscale

NaniteAFM is the optimal tool to enhance your imaging and analysis capabilities for quality control, providing nanoscale surface information. It has the advantage that it works equally well for opaque and transparent samples. Because of the latter, AFM has become a well established technique for surface analysis of glass. Some applications require glass surfaces exhibiting a roughness well below the nanometer, and nanometer-sized defects may affect the object’s behavior. Despite their surface smoothness, glass objects can be large and heavy, and it is undesirable to cut out samples from a work piece for examination. Finally, glass surfaces are not necessarily plane-parallel, like in the case of lenses. The NaniteAFM is a flexible tool that can handle all requirements to obtain quantitative surface information of a glass work piece.

Image (A) and statistical analysis (B) of a glass surface with sub-nanometer roughness (00584)

Image (A) and height profile (B) of nanoscale ripples in glass. The ripples are produced by physically removal of atoms from the surface using defocused ion beam sputtering with inert Ar ions. Sample courtesy: Maria Caterina Giordano and Francesco Buatier de Mongeot, Dipartimento di Fisica, Università di Genova (Italy) (00787)

In parallel to the topography you can visualize other material properties with NaniteAFM: phase information can be used to observe heterogeneity of tip-sample interaction if samples exhibit variations in elastic, adhesive or magnetic properties at the nanoscale. For polymeric samples, the local elasticity and adhesion properties can also be mapped quantitatively in static spectroscopy mode.

Overlay of phase on topography, uncovering variation in mechanical properties of rubber, with a higher phase in green-red on particles compared to the surrounding matrix in blue.

Overlay of phase on topography, displaying the magnetization of a Permalloy thin film (sample courtesy: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jeffrey McCord, Nanoscale Magnetic Materials – Magnetic Domains, Institute for Materials Science, University of Kiel).