Scanning Probe Microscopes and How They Work

Scanning Probe Microscopy is a relatively in depth science which involves the usage of scanning probe microscopes (SPM) which are used to make “images” of nanoscale surfaces which are far too small for the human eye, or even a microscope, to see  - often consisting of nanoscale solids, gases and liquids at an atomic level. A scanning force microscope is intended for usage via scanning back and forth over the sample, and relaying data back to a computer which generates what exactly the surface itself should look like. Fascinatingly, atoms themselves can be manipulated using a scanning force microscope in addition.

A scanning probe microscope has a probe top which is attached to a cantilever. The tips can amazingly have an edge which is a single atom in width, allowing a scientist great precision when it comes to ascertaining the properties of a particular element. This tip is moved to different coordinates across the surface of an element.

Where the science comes in is that when the probes’ tip is near a sample surface, or a particular group of clustered atoms which represent a solid surface, the cantilever is deflected back by the atoms force. Therein lies the ascertainment of examining a surface to gain a greater understanding of what exactly it is. As each atom in differing compounds is different, It deflects the probe back with a different force. For instance, mechanical surfaces are different than electrostatic, magnetic are different to atoms which are bonded chemically, and so on.

As the probe moves, all of this information is compiled and sent to a computer which lists the information for the scientist in question.

How exactly this information is displayed depends on the system and the manufacturer.

he most recognised manufacturer of scanning force microscope systems is without doubt SPECS, which manufactures a series of scanning force microscope systems and is the sole manufacturer which also offers a software solution.

Essentially, SPECS have dominated the field of surface science and Scanning Probe Microscopy for very many years, having adapted the perfect approach of excellent hardware and time-saving software.

A worldwide company, SPECS products in the UK and Ireland are distributed solely by their chosen distributor Scanwel, a reputable firm which also manufactures their own custom fabrications.