Hi there! I am pleased to announce that I have purchased a second-hand low-end AFM (atomic force microscope), an NT-MDT NanoEducator I, which I have temporarily placed in my city (Genoa, Italy), in the Department of Chemical Engineering (DICCA), at the Lab of Prof. Bruno Fabiano. This instrument has been paid with my own money and is intended to carry IGDORE label for all of its life. My idea, as an AFM expert, is to do with it some basic morphological analysis (eg critical size measurement, roughness characterization of materials and engineering surfaces) in view of possible papers. It is perhaps a bit too much to call that a real AFM. Say, it is more like a stylus profilometer. It can only work in pseudo-tapping mode (actually, more like shear-force interaction based), and only in air (Q-factor of the probes in air is already so low, around 20). Additionally, the lateral tip resolution is a bit lower than that for cantilevered Si / Si3N4 probes, say 50 nm instead of 5. However, any IGDORE affiliated who would need to have similar surface morphology measurements done, and has no access to such an instrument on his/her own, please, is invited to send me samples through mail (if stable), for measurement. This, of course, after a preliminary short-discussion of the motivation on Skype/Zoom/Teams. And I can measure and share the scientific results, in view of a joint publication. Hopefully, this is just the first step to making IGDORE name appear on real physical places, filled in with real technical devices and instruments. I will work on that in my days free from current part-time employment from which I earn the salary necessary to live, namely on Mondays and Fridays. Let me have any feedback, all comments will be welcome, even criticisms. I’m presently on unexplored land. I wish you all the best. Take care, Marco.
Btw, welcome to the forum, Marco!
This is exciting as the AFM will be the first lab equipment the is officially associated with IGDORE - thanks for making it available Marco! @gurgite a lot of IGDORE affiliates probably aren’t particularly familiar with AFM and surface profiling - could you link to a few papers from yourself or colleagues that show the type of studies that this can be used for?
Here is a photo of the workstation in action that Marco sent me:
@rebecca, yes it’s in the next newsletter. I suggested to Enrico that we could also create an infrastructure & resources page on the site. It will just have Marco’s AFM for now; hopefully, we can coordinate more exchange and sharing of equipment between other IGDORE affiliates in future.
Thank you Gavin for the useful suggestion.
This little piece of instrument allows for surface morphology characterization of materials in air, down to sub-diffraction wavelength lateral resolution, with direct 3D (height) information. The type of studies one can do, is to evaluate stepheight at compound material structures, or - most interesting - roughness, according to amplitude (z) parameters such as 2D RMS, or additional moments of height distribution, such as skewness and kurtosis. Of course, also texture information (ie in-plane xy spacing of features, possible averaged over the all image area through FFT) is also possible.
Please, notice that the maximum nominal scan size is 70 um in xy, while in z I’m not yet sure but should be around 10 um. You can find links to a few useful papers / documents hereafter.
- For better understanding of roughness parameters (after analysis of obtained images) : SPIP User's Guide
- As examples of (mine, not necessarily among the best) roughness studies done via AFM / stylus profiling : Microporous morphology of cathodic electrolytic treated aluminum imaged by atomic force microscopy - ScienceDirect https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02670844.2019.1710937 Hydro air abrasion on dental glass-ceramics: A direct 3D analysis by stylus profilometry - PubMed
- Insight into the roughness parameters meaning and methodology :
Measuring surface roughness with atomic force microscopy - Materials Today
Excellent step for the future of independent research! Thank you, @gurgite!