Home Products Applications Catalog Custom/OEM Technical Information News International Sales Repairs Contact

AFM & NSOM
>>SPM-M Kit

Additional Information
AFM Video Tutorial
MadPLL® Brochure
Laser Focus World Article
Sensor Probe Board Drawing

Related Products
SPM Accessories
MadPLL®
Tuning Forks
Nano-OP Series
Nano-SPM200
Nano-HS Series
Nanopositioning Accessories
Nano-Drive®

Questions?
E-Mail Us



SPM-M Kit - build an Akiyama probe or tuning fork AFM with Mad City Labs nanopositioners

  Introduction



AFM block diagramThe SPM-M Kit combines the MadPLL® instrument package with Mad City Labs high resolution piezo nanpositioning systems to form a high performance, closed loop, scanning Akiyama probe or tuning fork AFM. The seamless integration of hardware combined with the built-in automated control of MadPLL® means that you can concentrate on getting results, not tweaking parameters. Applications for the SPM-M Kit include nanoscale characterization and nanoscale fabrication applications such as nitrogen vacancies in diamond, optical antennas, nano-optics, semiconductors, data storage, and more. The SPM-M Kit is ideal for research and teaching laboratories offering high performance, versatility, simplicity and excellent value.

At left: Schematic of a typical AFM instrument based on the SPM-M Kit.


The SPM-M Kit includes:

  • 3 axis closed loop Nano-Drive® controller
  • Z axis open loop/close loop switch (OCL option)
  • AFMView™ Software
  • AFMView™ Tutorial
  • Adapter plate between probe mount board and Nano-OP30
  • Application note: "AFM Kit with manual positioning"

MadPLL® is a powerful instrument package that allows the user to create an inexpensive, high resolution resonant scanning probe microscope using Mad City Labs piezo nanopositioning systems. The MadPLL® package includes a digital phase lock loop (PLL) controller, software, sensor amplifier board, and resonant probe mounting board. MadPLL® includes five (5) each of the vertical, horizontal, Akiyama, and blank probe boards. In addition, each unit is shipped with five (5) tuning forks. Additional probe boards and tuning forks can be purchased separately.

Available options:

Not included:
These items are described in the application note and are listed in the Bill of Materials (BOM)
  • L-Bracket
  • Fasteners or clamps

Recommended additional items:
  • Vibration isolation table

  Absolute Metrology


The SPM-M Kit incorporates the Nano-SPM200 and Nano-OP30 with a three axis Nano-Drive® controller for closed loop nanopositioning in X, Y, and Z. These systems incoporate Mad City Lab's proprietary PicoQ® sensor technology for closed loop feedback control, offering significant advantages in terms of image quality, accuracy and repeatability over open loop scanners. The sensor signal from all three axes can be read during AFM scans via the analog output signal or USB, thus minimizing the effects of hysteresis, curvilinear motion, and creep that result if data are analyzed using assumed commanded positions. Using position information from closed loop sensors also eliminates the need to scan a calibration grid in XYZ before scanning every sample. Scanning with closed loop nanopositioners saves time and improves image quality. Closed loop feedback also allows the nanopositioners to move and return to commanded positions with much more reliability than open loop systems, allowing users to return to previously scanned features for further analysis.

For further information about the PicoQ® sensors used in Mad City Labs piezo nanopositioning systems, see the PicoQ® sensor technology page and our Technical Information pages.


  AFM Video Tutorial


Instant AFM - just add science!


The video at the page linked below illustrates how to use the SPM-M kit along with an Akiyama Probe, manual coarse positioners, and hardware to create a low cost, easy assembly, high resolution AFM.

Mad City Labs AFM Assembly TutorialMad City Labs AFM Assembly Tutorial - How to Build an "Instant" Atomic Force Microscope



  Image Gallery


Seeing is Believing!


The images below were acquired using similar configurations to the SPM-M Kit.

MadPLL Atomic Force Microscope Image of Si (111) monatomic layer stepsMadPLL Atomic Force Microscope 3D Image of Si (111) monatomic layer steps Si (111) Atomic Steps
(312pm monatomic layer thickness)
2µm x 2µm
Data taken using MadPLL® with Nano-HS3 3-axis nanopositioning system and etched tungsten tip on a quartz tuning fork.
MadPLL Atomic Force Microscope Image of Calibration Grid Si (111) Atomic Steps
(312pm monatomic layer thickness)
1.76µm x 2.02µm
Data taken using MadPLL® with Nano-HS3 3-axis nanopositioning system and Akiyama probe.
MadPLL Atomic Force Microscope Image of Calibration Grid Calibration grid
(100nm tall lines, 2µm apart)
10µm x 10µm
Unidirectional scan
Self oscillation mode, constant probe signal
Z force feedback: frequency
Data taken using MadPLL® with Nano-HS3 3-axis nanopositioning system and Akiyama probe.
MadPLL Atomic Force Microscope Image of Calibration Grid

Calibration grid
(100nm tall pegs, spaced 2µm apart)
10µm x 10µm
Unidirectional scan
Self oscillation mode, constant probe signal
Z force feedback: frequency
Data taken using MadPLL® with Nano-HS3 3-axis nanopositioning system and Akiyama probe.

MadPLL Atomic Force Microscope Image of a Fly EyeMadPLL Atomic Force Microscope Image of a Fly Eye Fly eye
100µm x 100µm
Bidirectional scan
PLL mode, constant probe signal
Z force feedback: frequency
Data taken using MadPLL® with Nano-OP30 nanopositioning system (Z-axis), Nano-OP100 nanopositioning system (XY axes) and Akiyama probe.
MadPLL Atomic Force Microscope Image of a Human Hair Human hair
100µm x 100µm
Bidirectional scan
Self oscillation mode, constant probe signal
Z force feedback: frequency
Data taken using MadPLL® with Nano-OP30 nanopositioning system (Z-axis), Nano-OP100 nanopositioning system (XY axes)
and Akiyama probe.
MadPLL Atomic Force Microscope Image of Uncured PMMA PatternMadPLL Atomic Force Microscope Image of Uncured PMMA Pattern

PMMA pattern, uncured
10 µm x 10 µm
Bidirectional scan
Self oscillation mode, constant probe signal
Z force feedback: frequency
Data taken using MadPLL® with Nano-OP30 nanopositioning system (Z-axis), Nano-OP100 nanopositioning system (XY axes) and Akiyama probe.

MadPLL Atomic Force Microscope Image of an Integrated Circuit
Integrated circuit
100 µm x 100 µm
Bidirectional scan
Self oscillation mode, constant probe signal
Z force feedback: frequency
Data taken using MadPLL® with Nano-OP30 nanopositioning system (Z-axis), Nano-OP100 nanopositioning system (XY axes)
and Akiyama probe.
MadPLL Atomic Force Microscope Image of Calibration GridMadPLL Atomic Force Microscope Image of Calibration Grid
Calibration grid
40 µm x 40 µm
Unidirectional scan
Self oscillation mode, constant probe signal
Z force feedback: frequency
Data taken using MadPLL® with Nano-OP30 nanopositioning system (Z-axis), Nano-OP100 nanopositioning system (XY axes)
and Akiyama probe.
MadPLL Atomic Force Microscope Image of Calibration Grid

Calibration grid
(100nm tall, 10µm pitch)
70 µm x 70 µm
Unidirectional scan
PLL mode, constant probe signal
Z force feedback: frequency
Data taken using MadPLL® with Nano-OP30 nanopositioning system (Z-axis), Nano-OP100 nanopositioning system (XY axes) and Akiyama probe.

MadPLL Atomic Force Microscope Image of Test Pattern
Etched structures
80 µm x 80 µm
Bidirectional scan
Self oscillation mode, constant probe signal
Z force feedback: frequency
Data taken using MadPLL® with Nano-OP30 nanopositioning system (Z-axis), Nano-OP100 nanopositioning system (XY axes)
and Akiyama probe.


  Tungsten Tip Etching with the SPM Etch Kit


An etched tungsten tip glued to a quartz tuning fork for Atomic Force Microscopy.
An etched tungsten tip glued to a quartz tuning fork.

One way to produce sharp probe tips suitable for building an AFM is to electrochemically etch tungsten wire. This method can produce a tip radius of better than 50nm. Post etching techniques can even sharpen the tip down to a <1nm tip radius. These sharp tungsten tips can be mounted to quartz tuning forks for AFM or for other types of scanning probe microscopy like scanning tunneling microscopy (STM).

There are a variety of methods to choose from to etch the tungsten wire. The single lamella technique is easy to setup and can consistently produce sharp tips. Among the requirements for this process are a metallic ring, a beaker, Potassium Hydroxide (KOH), tungsten wire, and a voltage source. A drop of KOH is added to the metal ring suspended above the beaker, forming a thin film or lamella of KOH inside the metallic ring. The negative terminal of the voltage source is then connected to the suspended metallic ring. This will form the negative electrode. The beaker below the ring is then filled with KOH and the positive terminal of the voltage source is wired intod the KOH solution. This forms the positive electrode. The tungsten wire is then dipped through the center of the lamella and into the KOH in the beaker. The voltage source dis then turned on which begins the etching process. The tungsten is electrochemically etched at the lamella. The etching process automatically stops when the tungsten wire is etched so thin that the portion of wire below the lamella falls off and drops into the beaker. The remaining tungsten wire above the lamella is removed and any remaining KOH or contaminants are rinsed off with distilled water. This leaves a very sharp tip suitable for use in AFM or other types of SPM.

Mad City Labs provides an SPM Etch Kit along with an application note on etching Tungsten tips to make this easy.




Additional Information

MadPLL® Brochure

Laser Focus World Article

NANOPOSITIONING: Piezo­electric nano­positioners forge low-cost atomic force microscope
AFM Video Tutorial


MadPLL® Sensor Probe Board Drawing


Application Notes:

SPM-004 "Building an AFM with motorized XYZ and camera"
SPM-005 "Building an AFM with manual XY, motorized Z and camera"
SPM-006 "Creating tungsten tips using the Mad City Labs SPM Etch Kit"
SPM-007 "Using shattered silicon as resonant probe tips"

Available upon customer request



Related Products


mclgen@madcitylabs.com       phone: 608.298.0855       fax: 608.298.9525

Copyright © 2017