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Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM)

Atomic force microscopy is a type of scanned-proximity probe microscopy. It probes the surface of the sample with a sharp tip microfabricated onto the end of a 100-200 micron-long cantilever.

Imaging is achieved by raster scanning the tip across the sample using a piezoelectric scanner that can move in the x, y, and z direction. The probe tip is scanned across the sample to sense the intermolecular forces between the probe and surface.

As the tip encounters changes in the surface, the cantilever, which acts a flexible spring, deflects accordingly. Changes in the cantilever deflection are usually detected using a laser and compensated for by changing the height of the sample. These positional changes of the sample required to keep the cantilever deflection constant are used to form the image.

In UCD Conway Institute, AFM is the principle measurement tool used by the nanoscale function group led by Prof. Suzi Jarvis. The research team aim to understand, manipulate and use the function of molecules on the nanometre scale to help construct the foundations on which both nanotechnology and biotechnology will be built. The group hopes to have an impact on medical and technological advances and help develop new biocompatible materials, electronic devices, diagnostic methods and means of drug delivery.

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Check out the next associated technology: Pre-clinical imaging 

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