Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) is a high resolution technique to measure the topography of samples. However, in order for such measurements to be accurate, the AFM must be calibrated, so that the results can be trusted. The commercial materials listed here are suitable for making such calibrations of AFM instruments.
This information on AFM standards is extracted from my forthcoming book "Atomic Force Microscopy".
Please get in touch if any information is inaccurate or you know of another standard or supplier.

See appendix B of Atomic Force Microscopy for calibration procedures.


X-Y Standards

These are standards to calibrate or check linearity in the X-Y axis in SPMs.



VLSI standards

many in µm range (silicon, 2D) 100 to 1000 nm (silicon, 1D)

Ted Pella

144 nm (aluminium on Silicon)

300 nm (titanium on silicon)


3 and 10 µm, HOPG

SPI Supplies

300 or 700 nm (metal-coated silicon)

Electron Microscopy Sciences

300 or 700 nm (metal-coated silicon)

Applied NanoStructures

Various in micrometer range (metal-coated silicon). I personally tried use these standards.


1, 2, 10, 15 µm (silicon)


278 nm (aluminium on glass, 1D)

3 µm (silicon, 2D)

Asylum Research

10 and 20 µm pitch (metal on silicon)


100, 200 or 300 nm (silicon)

4, 8 and 16 µm (silicon


500 nm, 5 and 10 µm - SiO2 on silicon.

Team Nanotech

Pitch and feature width standards

Geller Micro

Geller sell references and standards (including traceable ones), suitable for AFM as well as EM.

Z standards

Here are standards to calibrate the z scale. Sometimes these can be the same ones as used for the x-y axis calibration, but often they are separate samples.


Z calibration standard

VLSI standards

various silicon and quartz


Various in silicon, HOPG


Silicon monatomic steps (0.31 nm)

Ted Pella

20, 100 and 500nm (Silicon)

Applied NanoStructures

10nm, 1µm


10, 100 and 500 nm steps - SiO2 on silicon


2, 100, or 200 nm (silicon)


Various steps in silicon and atomic steps in Silicon (0.31 nm)

Asylum Research

200 nm (metal on silicon)


8nm (silicon)

Silios Technologies

2, 5 and 10 nm (silicon)

1 nm "in development"

Other standard materials include ultraflat samples - mica and HOPG, available from various suppliers, and quartz ultraflat sample from nanosensors.

Particle Standards

Particle samples are also useful both to calibrate the tip and as height references.


Particle sample


Gold colloids in 5, 15, or 15 nm diameter

Edmund Optics

Polystyrene nanospheres in a range from 20 to 900 nm

Evident Technology

Quantum dots ranging from 2.2 to 5.8 nm

Electron Microscopy Sciences

Colliodal gold in 0.8 to 25 nm diameter

LFM Standards

Samples for calibrating LFM , with fixed angle slopes are:


LFM sample


Triangles (silicon), top angle 70 °

Steps with sloped edges (silicon), slopes 54 °

Edmund Optics

Ruled diffraction gratings, with various angles

Phase References

Samples for calibrating phase are available from Asylum Research and EMS. Both are polymer samples with regions of different hardness.


Probe Shape Calibration Samples

These are samples you can image with the AFM in order to get an in situ measurement of the radius and shape of the probe tip.



Aurora NanoDevices

Tip check sample (100 nm z-scale). Nioprobe tipcheck sample ( 10 nm z scale)


Porous aluminium


Silicon spikes


Thin film on silicon wafer, with sharp pyramidal spikes. I have used this sample, and it can be used in contact or oscillating modes to characterise probe tip shape.

Feel free to get in touch with any updates / corrections.

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 (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

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


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


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

NT-MDT manufacture many standard and specialty probes, including with a wide range of coatings


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

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

Team Nanotec

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

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

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

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


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

Kelvin Nanotechnologies
Based on the campus of Glasgow University, Kelvin Nanotechnologies manufacture scanning thermal probes


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


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

Carbon Design Innovations

CDI manufacture AFM probes modified with carbon nanotubes on the tip

Smart Tip
Based in the Netherlands, Smart Tip make specialised probes, such as magnetic MFM probes


Company that specialises in colloid probes and chemically modified probes

SCL-Sensor Tech.

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. 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".

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! 


  • 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!



  • What's this site about?

  This site is designed to offer help with atomic force microscopy (AFM). AFM is an amazing and powerful technique for measuring images, and making other measurements of a wide range of samples. However, it can be rather daunting to use, especially for the beginner. On this website, as well as in the accompanying book we've collected a lot of information that explains how AFM works, and howto use AFM, and to process and analyse the images.


  • What's AFM?

There's a lot of information about AFM all over this website,  but for an overview, take a look at the AFM: Beginner's Guide page, and for frequently asked questions check out the AFM FAQ.