High Resolution Atomic Force Microscope For Research

The HR AFM is an advanced yet affordable AFM for researchers who need the highest resolution scanning capabilities. It is ideal for visualizing and measuring nanometer or sub-nanometer sized features such as single proteins or nucleic acids. Starts at $40,000


Sample Sizes Up to 1″ X 1″ X 1/2″
Standard Scanning Modes Vibrating (Tapping), Non-Vibrating (Contact), Phase, LFM
Scanners 100 X 100 X 17 µm, 50 X 50 X17 µm, 15 X 15 X 7 µm
Video Optical Microscope Top View: 400 X Research Grade, Side View: 200 X Cell Phone Type
Stage and EBox Size Compact table top design
Download: HR AFM Product Datasheet

Features of the HR AFM include:

HR AFM Applications

Applications for the AFM include imaging:
  • Biomolecules (DNA, proteins)

  • Nanoparticles (viruses)
  • Nanostructures (carbon nanotubes)
  • 2-D Materials (substrates)
  • Force measurements


The HR AFM stage has excellent thermal and mechanical stability required for high resolution AFM scanning. Additionally, its open design facilitates user modification.

Rapid Approach Control

The rapid approach control allows moving the probe from within a few hundred microns from the surface to a mm in less than a second. Below is side view video optical microscope view of the rapid approach control in the “stage down” and “stage up” positions.

In the stage down position, the probe is within a few hundred microns of the surface. Activating the Rapid Approach Control immediately lifts the probe away from the surface.

This a side view of the probe in the stage up position. In the up position the probe and sample are readily exchanged.


Electronics in the HR AFM are constructed around industry standard USB data acquisition electronics. The critical functions, such as XY scanning, are optimized with a 24-bit digital to analog converter. With the analog Z feedback loop, the highest fidelity scanning is possible. Vibrating mode scanning is possible with both phase and amplitude feedback using the high sensitivity phase detection electronics.


The software for acquiring images is designed with the industry standard LabVIEW™ programming visual interface instrument design environment. There are many standard functions, including setting scanning parameters, probe approach, frequency tuning, and displaying images in real time. LabVIEW™ facilitates rapid development for those users seeking to enhance the software with additional special features. LabVIEW also enables the HR AFM to be readily combined with any other instrument using LabVIEW.

Image Analysis Software

Included with the HR AFM is the Gwyddion open source SPM image analysis software. This complete image analysis package has all the software functions necessary to process, analyze, and display SPM images.

  • Visualization: false color representation with different types of mapping
  • Shaded, logarithmic, gradient- and edge-detected, local contrast representation, and Canny lines
  • OpenGL 3D data display: false color or material representation
  • Easily editable color maps and OpenGL materials
  • Basic operations: rotation, flipping, inversion, data arithmetic, crop, and resampling
  • Leveling: plane leveling, profiles leveling, three-point leveling, facet leveling, polynomial background removal, leveling along user-defined lines
  • Value reading, distance, and angle measurement
  • Profiles: profile extraction, measuring distances in profile graph, and profile export
  • Filtering: mean, median, conservative denoise, Kuwahara, minimum, maximum, and checker pattern removal
  • General convolution filter with user-defined kernel
  • Statistical functions: Ra, RMS, projected and surface area, inclination, histograms, 1D and 2D correlation functions, PSDF, 1D and 2D angular distributions, Minkowski functionals, and facet orientation analysis
  • Statistical quantities calculated from area under arbitrary mask
  • Row/column statistical quantities plots
  • ISO roughness parameter evaluation
  • Grains: threshold marking and un-marking, and watershed marking
  • Grain statistics: overall and distributions of size, height, area, volume, boundary length, and bounding dimensions
  • Integral transforms: 2D FFT, 2D continuous wavelet transform (CWT), 2D discrete wavelet transform (DWT), and wavelet anisotropy detection
  • Fractal dimension analysis
  • Data correction: spot remove, outlier marking, scar marking, and several line correction methods (median, modus)
  • Removal of data under arbitrary mask using Laplace or fractal interpolation
  • Automatic XY plane rotation correction
  • Arbitrary polynomial deformation on XY plane
  • 1D and 2D FFT filtering
  • Fast scan axis drift correction
  • Mask editing: adding, removing or intersecting with rectangles and ellipses, inversion, extraction, expansion, and shrinking
  • Simple graph function fitting, critical dimension determination
  • Force-distance curve fitting
  • Axes scale calibration
  • Merging and immersion of images
  • Tip modeling, blind estimation, dilation and erosion

Video Microscope

The HR AFM includes two video optical microscopes for viewing the sample and probe. The video microscopes are essential for locating features on a surface, a safe and efficient probe approach, and aligning the light lever force sensor.

Top View Video Microscope

From the top, the HR AFM has a research grade video optical microscope with a 7:1 mechanical zoom, a 5 MP camera, and coaxial illumination. With a resolution of < 2 microns, this microscope is ideal for locating features on a surface for scanning.

With a 7:1 mechanical zoom, it is possible to use a large field of view to locate features for imaging. It is then possible to zoom in to get very high resolution video microscope images.

Side View Video Microscope

The side view video microscope has a 2 MP camera and an off axis LED light source and is used for visualizing the distance between the probe and the sample. This microscope is especially helpful for assisting probe approach on transparent and non-reflective samples.

Probe Holder

The HR AFM utilizes a unique probe holder/exchange mechanism. Probes are held in place with a spring device and exchanged with a probe exchange tool. Changing probes is simple and can be done in less than a minute.

Quick and Easy AFM Probe Exchange

The probe holder insert is removed from the HR AFM.
R to L: Box of probes, probe exchange tool, and probe holder insert.
Activating the probe spring clip by applying light pressure.


The true measure of an AFM is the quality of images it measures. With a noise floor of less than 35 picometers, and 28 bit scanning resolution, the HR AFM is capable of measuring the highest resolution images on many types of samples including biomolecules such as DNA and individual proteins, nanostructured substrates, polymers and other biomaterials.

Vibrating mode image of F10H20 measured with a 50 X 50 X 17 micron scanner
More Images


Scanning Modes

The HR AFM includes the most commonly used AFM Modes. The are:

Vibrating Mode (tap)

Vibrating mode imaging is the most common mode for measuring topography images with an AFM. In vibrating mode the vibration amplitude of the probe is held constant during a scan. Adjustable parameters include the vibrating frequency, amplitude of vibration, and the amount of dampening of the vibrating probe.

Non-vibrating (contact)

In non-vibrating mode, commonly called contact mode, the deflection of a cantilever is held constant during scanning. This mode is often used for scanning in liquids and is also used for measuring force-distance curves.


Phase mode images are measured in vibrating mode and are useful for identifying different areas of hardness on a surface. The technique operates by measuring the phase change caused by various materials on a surface while scanning.

Lateral Force

Lateral force mode measures the local friction a probe senses as it is scanned across a surface. The friction can be caused by surface texture or by different chemical composition.

Force – Distance (F/D)

Force Distance Curves measure the deflection of a cantilever as it interacts with a surface. Force-Distance measurements monitor such surface parameters as: Adhesion, Stiffness, Compliance, Hardness, and Contaminate Thickness. This advanced AFM module is flexible and enables many types of experiments.

Optional Modes

Magnetic Force

Measures surface magnetic field by incorporating a magnetic probe into the AFM. MFM is used to generate images of magnetic fields on a surface, and is particularly useful in the development of magnetic recording technology. Magnetic fields associated with individual magnetic nanoparticles are also revealed through MFM.

Electric force

Electrostatic Force Microscopy (EFM) is a type of dynamic non-contact atomic force Microscope where the electrostatic force is probed. “Dynamic” here means that the cantilever is oscillating and does not make contact with the sample. This force arises due to the attraction or repulsion of separated charges.

Conductive AFM

The C-AFM measures topography and conductivity images simultaneously. This option allows measuring current-voltage (I/V) curves at specific locations on a surface.


This NanoLithography software option enables the AFM probe to alter the physical or chemical properties of the surface. Created in LabVIEW and integrated with the AFMControl software. VI’s are available to customers who want to modify the software and create new capabilities.

Scanning Tunneling

In the STM, the current flow between a metal probe and a sample are used to control the distance between the conductive probe and conductive surface. When the probe is scanned across the surface, if the current between the probe and surface are held constant with a feedback control loop driving a piezo ceramic, the topography of the sample’s surface in measured.

Open Liquid Cell

This option includes a special probe holder and open liquid cell for scanning samples submerged in liquids. The Dunk and Scan can directly replace the HR AFM probe holder.


Required Options

When you purchase a HR AFM you must select at least one scanner from the following table:

HR-2D Option

The HR-2D is a high resolution AFM with a small footprint dedicated for imaging two-dimensional materials and for use in a glove box. Included with the HR-2D is everything you need to start scanning including a reference sample, probes, data station, and microscope stage.

HR-2D Stage: The dimensions are 7” Wide X 7” Deep X 11” High


Direct Drive Option

In the HR AFM with direct drive option, three motors are used move the plate that supports the light lever force sensor with a fourth motor controlling the focus of the top view optical microscope. This allows a completely vertical probe approach and keeps the top view microscope focused on the probe.

In the direct drive option, motor 1, 2, and 3 simultaneously move the Light lever plate up and down, and the motor 4 controls the optics focus.


Scanner Specifications

100 X 100 X 17 50 X 50 X 17 15 X 15 X 7
Engineering Specifications
XY Resolution 0.010 nm 0.005 nm 0.003 nm
XY Linearity <0.1% <0.1% <0.1%
Z Resolution 0.003 nm 0.003 nm 0.0015 nm
Z Linearity <0.1% <0.1% <0.1%
Performance Specializations
XY Range 100 µm 50 µm 15 µm
XY Linearity <0.1% <0.1% <0.1%
XY Resolution
Closed Loop <6 nm <3 nm <1 nm
Open Loop <1 nm <1 nm <0.3 nm
Z Range 17 µm 17 µm 7 µm
Z Linearity
Open Loop <5% <5% <5%
Closed Loop <1% <1% <1%
Z Sensor Noise 1 nm 1 nm N.A.
Z Feedback Noise <0.15 nm <0.15 nm <0.35 nm
Actuator Type Piezo Piezo Piezo
Design Modified Tripod Modified Tripod Modified Tripod
XY Sensor Type Strain Gauge Strain Gauge Strain Gauge
Z Sensor Type Strain Gauge Strain Gauge N.A.

Electronic Control Specifications

XY Scan 2 X 28-bits 24-bit Scan DAC, 4-bit gain 192 Khz
XY Linearization Control 2 X 24-bits 0.005 nm 192 Khz
Z Axis Control Analog 4 amplifier – GPID 1 microvolt noise
Input Signal Bandwidth 5 Mhz
Z axis Signal Capture 20 bits 16-bit ADC, 4-bit gain 50 Khz
Phase Signal Capture 2 X 16 bits ADC 50 Khz
L-R Signal Capture 2 X 16 bits ADC 50 Khz
Amplitude Signal Capture 2 X 16 bits ADC 50 Khz
Z Error Signal Capture 2 X 16 bits ADC 50 Khz
Main Controller MPU 80 Mz/105 DMIPS, 32 Bits (5-stage pipeline, Harvard architecture)
Excitation/Modulation Analog PLL 0-800 Khz
Communication USB 2.0
Signal capture specified includes the image logger option. Without Image Logger 1 X 16 bits

Optional Electronics Specifications

User Input Signal (1) 32 X 18 bits ADC 625 Khz
User Output (1) 32 X 18 bits DAC 625 Khz
User Monitor (1) 48 Lines Digital IO Mhz
Optional Controller MPU (2) 80 Mz/105 DMIPS, 32 Bits (5-stage pipeline, Harvard architecture)

(1) Optional User I/O upgrade
(2) Used for MFM, PhotoCorrect, EFM


Environment LabVIEW
Operating System Windows
Image Acquisition Real Time Display (2 of 8 channels)
Control Parameters  
Setpoint Yes
Range Yes
Scan Rate Yes
Image Rotate 0 and 90 degrees
Laser Align Yes
Vibrating Freq. Display Yes
Force Distance Yes
Tip Approach Yes
Oscilloscope Yes
Image Store Format Industry Standard
Image Pixels 16 X 16 to 1024 X 1024
H.V. Gain Control XY and Z
Real Time Display Line Level, Light Shaded, Grey Color Pallet
Calibration System Window
Probe Center Yes
Video Microscope
Minimum Zoom Maximum Zoom
Field of view 2 x 2 mm 300 x 300 μm
Resolution 20 μm 2 μm
Working Distance 114 mm 114 mm
Magnification 45X 400X
Top View Optic
  • Research Grade 45-400x

  • Mechanical 7:1 Zoom ratio
  • 5 MegaPixel CMOS Camera
  • 114 mm working distance
  • Coaxial LED illumination

Side View Optic
  • Cell Phone Type
  • LED illumination

  • 2 MegaPixel CMOS camera

* Z Noise performance depends greatly on the environment the HR AFM is used in. Best Z noise performance is obtained in a vibration-free environment.

** Every effort is made to present accurate specifications, however, due to circumstances beyond AFMWorkshop’s control specifications are subject to change. All specifications are accurate to +/-5%.