How to Operate Atomic Force Microscope (AFM)?

  1. Turn On the NanoScope Controller by push the bottom in the behind side.
  1. Place Optical Head on Scanner
  • Raise all three coarse-adjust screws on the scanner so that there is enough clearance between the tip and sample when the optical head is placed on the scanner. Still checking that the tip doesn’t touch the sample. Attach the springs to the optical head.
  • Plug in the connector from the optical head to the base.
  • Bring the tip close to the sample keeping the head level by lowering all three coarse adjust screws.

  1. Align Laser and Tip-Sample Approach
  • Focus on the side-view of the cantilever with the magnifier. Try searching for the red light of the laser and focus on that.
  • Use the “paper method” (block laser beam with paper) to fine position the laser spot on the cantilever. Use the two screws at the base of the optical head (front and left) to position the cantilever over the area of interest on the sample.
  • Move laser until it is at the front edge of the cantilever substrate. Move laser just off the front edge and move laterally along the edge looking for the reflection of the laser spot from the cantilever onto the paper. Center the laser on the cantilever at its end.
  1. Open the software “Nanoscope Control” -> has two windows (Control and Image Windows)
  1. In the Control windows


  • “Other Controls” panel -> set Microscope mode to tapping or contact mode
  • “Feedback Controls” panel
    -> Integral gain/Proportional gain (tapping mode default= 0.3/0.8, contact mode default= 1/3)
    ->  Amplitude setpoint à taping mode = smaller apply more force, contact mode = bigger apply more force (default for NP is 2V)
  • “Scan Controls” panel -> depend on requirement but the default is; Scan size=1, x offset=0µm, Y offset= 0µm, Scan rate=1Hz, Samples/line = 512, Lines=25
  • Engage or withdraw tip by push the tip icon and capture image by push the camera icon.
  1. In the Image Windows

untitledMake sure that “Z Center Position” is always stable in the middle with white line. -> Withdraw the tip if the line becomes Red and approach to “Retracted or Extended”

  1. Open the saved image in the folder by push the image icon. Use Screenshot/print screen to copy the image data.


Important Notice!

– Read the manuals!
– Follow good “rules of engagement”!
– Never move the head while imaging!
– Never leave your controller ON while the computer is turned OFF!
– Do not unplug cables to/from energized hardware. Turn OFF first!


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