Atomic Force Microscopy


The Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) was originally developed as an imaging tool to measure the nanoscale topography of almost any solid surface in air or in a liquid environment. Its use has been expanded to measure interfacial material properties and colloidal scale interactions forces as well.

The AFM is comprised of a stage or surface attached to a nano-positioning system and a thin metallic cantilever that is raster scanned across the surface. This thin metallic cantilever acts a spring can be used to measure the interaction force between the tip and the surface as well. In addition, by immobilizing particles, oil drops, bubbles or cells to the cantilever we are able to study both the static and dynamic forces in a range of systems relevant to soft matter materials.

Micro-Cantilever Fabrication

In addition, with some of the methods we have pioneered in using the AFM to measure the interactions between drops and bubbles we have manufactured bespoke AFM cantilevers to hold drops and bubbles in liquid environments. These tipless cantilevers have a gold pad at the end of the cantilever that is easily chemically modified to provide a well defined region for the drop or bubble to sit in an AFM force measurement. We manufacture a range of cantilevers at the Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication, part of ANFF-Victoria.

Atomic Force Microscopy Facility for Nano-Characterisation and Surface Force Measurement

Our group has considerable expertise in both direct force measurement and surface imaging and characterization using the AFM. We operate a leading world-class scanning probe microscopy facility in Australia. This is a multi-user facility and operates as part the Materials Characterisation and Fabrication Platform (MCFP). Through this platform, this enables a number of different research groups in chemistry, biology, physics, botany, medicine and engineering in their research programs. Users may access this capability simply through the MCFP, but in many instances our group may interacts on a collaborative basis depending on the scale, focus and area of the work using AFM. For further information, please contact Professor Raymond Dagastine or the MCFP Platform Support Officer (Nanomaterials Characterisation) for access.

Atomic Force Microscopy Facility

  • Asylum Research, MFP3D mounted on a Nikon TE-2000 inverted microscope
  • Asylum Research, MFP3D mounted on a Nikon TE-i inverted microscope. Acoustic hood
  • Asylum Research, Cypher small sample high resolution imaging SPM
  • Veeco, Dimension 3100 with a Nanoscope IIIa controller
  • BioForce Nanosciences, Inc., UV/Ozone ProCleaner Plus

See Facilities for more information on other group equipment.