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IFE Research in Focus – QUT’s Atomic Force capability enters a new era

24th September 2019

The surface science laboratory in IFE's Central Analytical Research Facility (CARF) is now home to an Atomic Force Microscope (AFM). AFM is used by biologists to study cells and physicists for nanotechnology research.

The surface science laboratory in IFE's Central Analytical Research Facility (CARF) is now home to a new Atomic Force Microscope (AFM). AFM is used by a diverse range of scientists, from biologists to study cells to physicists for nanotechnology research.

QUT’s Bruker Icon PT AFM is a user-friendly, large-sample microscope that can accommodate a wide variety of hard and soft materials, and can perform measurements in air or in liquids. The AFM uses a very fine tip which is driven back and forth across the specimen surface, building up and image line by line. The scanning tip’s movement is controlled by special ceramic materials that expand or contract when a voltage is applied.

This so-called piezo-electric effect can be controlled so precisely that surfaces can be mapped at the level of individual atoms. During scanning, the height of the sample is monitored by a laser which reflects from the back of the tip.

As well as analysing the surface topography of materials, AFM techniques can be used to map changes in hardness, magnetism, stickiness and electrical conductivity across a surface.

IFE is now offering two tiers of AFM training, the first being for basic imaging and operation, and the second for advanced users.

atomic force microscope capabilities

CARF houses a range of purpose-built laboratories with state-of-the-art instruments for scientific analysis and provides expertise in surface science, including condensed matter physics, physical chemistry and other physical sciences.

Find out more about surface science at IFE's Central Analytical Research Facility.

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