One of the most important components of an AFM is the probe. AFM probes are made of a chip or substrate, a cantilever, and a tip. Usually, these are manufactured in one piece of silicon (or silicon nitride, Si3N4), by MEMS manufacturing techniques. In this way a wafer (with 400 or more probes) is manufactured at one time, with reasonable reproducibility of probe characteristics across the probes.

 Probe showing the Cantilever susbtrate and tip

 

Design of typical AFM probe, showing the substrate, cantilever and tip (probe).

 

Importantly, nearly all probes are interchangeable, so it’s possible to use probes from different manufacturers in your instrument. Thus, there is a fairly competitive market in AFM probes, and you can find a variety of probes from value to high-cost offerings, and an enormous range of probes, with different coatings, and physical properties, suitable for a wide range of applications. There are so many different probes here, that it’s not worth listing them all, so this page just links to the manufacturers of probes that I know of. Some companies resell probes from other manufacturers,such distributors are listed on this page. But here I list only the manufacturers. The manufacturers are listed in no particular order.

 

AFM Probe Manufacturers

Bruker

www.brukerafmprobes.com

Bruker (until recently Veeco) manufacture a huge range of probes, as well as reselling probes from various other producers. They have many representatives, as well as selling direct in the U.S.

Applied NanoStructures

www.appnano.com

AppNano manufacture a wide range of standard and speciality probes- they are resold by various companies, and also sell direct

Nanoworld

www.nanoworld.com

Nanoworld manufacture a very large range of standard and speciality probes - resold by various companies. Also branded as nanosensors

Mikromasch

www.spmtips.com

Mikromasch manufacture a very wide range of probes, both standard and speciality. They sell direct and are re-sold

NT-MDT

www.ntmdt-tips.com
NT-MDT manufacture many standard and specialty probes, including with a wide range of coatings

Olympus

probe.olympus-global.com 

Olympus manufacture many “standard” and novel probes, including the biolever-often used for force spectroscopy. They do not sell their own probes, but they are sold by a large number of companies

Artech Carbon

SCDProbes.com

Artech Carbon make single-crystal diamond porbes, which are very sharp and wear-resistant. 

Team Nanotec

www.team-nanotec.de

Team Nanotec make a variety of specialist AFM probes, including metrology tips, high-aspect ratio probes, MFM probes, etc. They both sell direct and are re-sold

Asylum Research

www.asylumresearch.com

Asylum make various speciality probes of their own design, as well as reselling various other brands. Asylum are now part of Oxford Instruments

Micro2Nano

www.micro2nano.com
Korean company, Micro2Nano manufacture tetra brand probes which are resold, and offer a custom probe service

Budget Sensors

budgetsensors.com
Budget Sensors manufacture a wide range of probes, including mix-and-match boxes. They have an online shop, and are resold

sQube

sqube.de

sQube manufacture a range of colloidal probe cantilevers, check their webpage for link to distributor

Kelvin Nanotechnologies

www.kelvinnanotechnology.com
Based on the campus of Glasgow University, Kelvin Nanotechnologies manufacture scanning thermal probes

NaugaNeedles

nauganeedles.com

Nauganeedles produce specialised probes with semiconductor nanowires grown from the end, useful for metrology and electrical applications

NuNano

www.nunano.com

Nunano is a Bristol (UK)-based startup specialising in SPM probe manufacture. Offer custom probe design.

Carbon Design Innovations

carbondesigninnovations.com

CDI manufacture AFM probes modified with carbon nanotubes on the tip

Smart Tip

www.smarttip.nl
Based in the Netherlands, Smart Tip make specialised probes, such as magnetic MFM probes

Novascan

www.novascan.com

Company that specialises in colloid probes and chemically modified probes

SCL-Sensor Tech.

www.sclsensortech.com

Company that specialises in self-sensing and self-actuating probes

 

Once again, distributors can be found here.

If I any have missed any manufacturers ,or made any other errors, please feel free to make suggestions, via the contact page.

Introduction

This article contains a list of all the software freely available to manipulate data from Scanning Probe Microscopy (SPM), that is, Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), and Scanning Tunnelling Microscopy (STM). It does not include software designed only to load one particular format, i.e. the software provided by the instrument manufacturers, unless they are able to open other formats. It is intended to summarise the third party software available. It does not compare the quality of the software, and the order is entirely arbitrary. If you know of other software available, let me know.  I do know there are two other lists of SPM software[This one and This one], although neither seem to be updated.

 

This list is an updated version of that which appeared in my book:"Atomic Force Microscopy", OUP, 2010, with Paul West.

 

List of Third Party SPM Software

Gwyddion

Freely available, open source software for manipulation of SPM files; supports very many formats, contains many analysis tools. Available for Linux, Windows and MAC OS. Frequently updated. Available here. (http://www.gwyddion.net)

 

SPIP (Scanning Probe Image Processor)

Commercial software for manipulation of SPM files; supports very many formats, contains many analysis tools. Also allows analysis of force curves in several formats. Has a purchase price, but a time-limited demonstration version is available. Frequently updated. Probably the most comprehensive 3rd party AFM analysis package around. Details, purchase, and demo version here.  (http://www.imagemet.com)

 

WSxM

Freely available software that supports many SPM file formats; and has many analysis tools. I personally like a lot the 3D rendering results from WSxM. It was originally developed by an AFM manufacturer for use with their instrument, but is now completely independent and supports very many other file formats. Unlike many third party programs, has support for force curves as well. Frequently updated. Available here. (http://wsxmsolutions.com/)

 

FemtoScan Online

Commercial software from a manufacturer, but loads lots of (about 20) other formats. 30-days trial has no functional limitations. English and Russian user interface. It seems to be quite capable software, if a little cryptic. Available here. (http://www.nanoscopy.net/en/Femtoscan-D.php)

 

PUNIAS (Protein Unfolding and Nanoindenation Analysis Software)

Commercial software, dedicated to analysis of force curves, supports several formats. Implements several of the common analysis techniques used for force spectroscopy, and nanoindentation data. Also supports force volume images. A licence must now be purchased to use it. Available here.  (http://punias.free.fr/)

 

AtomicJ

Freely available, open-source software, with versions for Windows, Mac and Linux. Like PUNIAs, this software concentrates on batch processing of force curves. Opens a small number of common file formats. Seems quite complete, and delivers thoroughly summarised results. Available here, and described in this paper.

 

Carpick Lab’s Software Toolbox

Some Matlab scripts to help with nanotribology research - i.e. friction measurements with the AFM. They are for Nanoscope files only. Available here. (http://nanoprobenetwork.org/software-library/welcome-to-the-carpick-labs-software-toolbox) (last time I checked this page had been "temporarily" taken down)


Image SXM

A version of NIH Image that has been extended to handle the loading, display and analysis of scanning microscope images. Seems to be able to open lots of file formats, but only works on MAC, so I've never tried it. Available here. (http://www.liv.ac.uk/~sdb/ImageSXM/)


ImageJ

Cross-platform image analysis program, not specifically designed for SPM images, but there are plugins to load MI or Nanoscope files here. I don't find it's often very useful, but some people use it, and it does have some useful functions, for e.g. particle counting. Available here. (http://rsb.info.nih.gov/ij/)

 

GXSM

This is a cross-platform (Linux, with a Windows port) open-source package that not only analyses data, but runs hardware, too. I haven't tried it. More details here.

 

MountainsMap SPM Image

This package loads many of the major formats of SPM files. I have recently tried this software, and it has most of the functions required, including an unusual "report" format of data analysis. Commercial software, but a downloadable demo version is available.
More details here. (http://www.digitalsurf.fr/en/mntspm.html)

 

TrueMap and TrueSurf

True Map is an analysis and display program. TrueSurf is a surface roughness analysis program. These are extensions of profiler software packages, now offering some AFM format support. Commercial software, a licence must be bought for extended use. More details here. (http://www.truegage.com)

 

OpenFovea

OpenFovea is a program for analysis of force-volume files, i.e. AFM files containing spatially-resolved force curves. It is a Linux-native program with a Windows verison also available. I have not tried this software. More details here. (http://www.freesbi.ch/en/openfovea)

 

Pycroscopy

New (2016) package that aims to allow analysis of data from a very wide range of different microscopy methods including AFM / SPM. The program is available as a package for the Pythn programming language, meaning it's necesssary to install a verison of Python before you can use it. More details here: (https://pycroscopy.github.io/pycroscopy/about.html)

 

 

Software that's no longer maintained

MIDAS 98

Program for deconvolution of AFM files. No longer updated. Appears to only open nanoscope files. Available here.

n-Surf

Freeware program to open display and manipulate SPM files. It seems to have most of the common functions, but opens Veeco and NT-MDT only, and appears to be still in beta, and last updated in 2005. The website is  available at www.n-surf.com.

 SPM Image Magic

This program seems to be no longer updated, it is designed for Windows95 or NT. Opens just a few SPM image formats, and has relatively few analysis options. At the same place is SPM Image Voyager, which seems to be an image browser utility. AFAIK, no longer available, since the old website at Geocities disappeared.

Note: I welcome comments/suggestions for these lists, please contact me via the "contact" page.

Afmhelp.com has just been published, it does not have much content right now, but it's coming soon.

The website will launch towards the end of 2009, for more information see "About AFMHelp.com".

This page has a list of corrections to the book "Atomic Force Microscopy".  If you notice any more mistakes, please let me know here. That way I can correct them in the next edition!

 

Important Note: All these errors will be corrected in the upcoming paperback edition. If you know of any more, let me know! 

Errors

  • Page 30 - Equation 2.6: Verr is used in place of Zerr in the first term.

 

  • Page 38 - The last paragraph erroneously refers to equations 2.5, 2.6 and 2.7, where it should be 2.7, 2.8 and 2.9, respectively.

 

  • page 53 - referring to the figure shown below:
Figure 3.4 - Canitlever and photodetector

In this figure, vertical bending is detected as "(A+B)-(C+D)", i.e. the difference of the top two and bottom two segments. On page 53 the book erroneously says "(A+B)-(C-D)".

 

  • Page 56 - Figure 3.6 Should read: "B-intermittent contact oscillation (large)".

 

  • Page 66 - Legend refers to colours in the image where there are none.

 

  • Page 114 - Section 5.2.4: Three-dimensional views. Should read: "...special glasses to differentiate the left eye's and right eye's views...".

 

  • Page 116 - Table 5.2. The Formula for skewness is incorect. The exponents should be 3, not 4. i.e., as shown below

Skewness formula

 

  • Page 164 - Misspelling of "fimbriae" as "fibriae".

 

Thanks very much to everyone who informed me of these errors!

Frequently Asked Questions about Atomic Force Microscopy

by Peter Eaton

This FAQ was originally created for clients of the AFM, i.e. those whose samples I scan.
However, it's grown a lot, and should also answer many questions of people planning to use the AFM themselves, or researching the technique. Its contents include a description of AFM suitability to various samples, sample preparation, tips for scanning and data processing, and a short bibliography. There is also a guide to recognising artifacts in AFM.

All the material here is discussed in greater detail in the book "Atomic Force Microscopy".

 

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