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Atomic Force Microscopy and Spectroscopy

Scanning Probe Techniques

  1. Hendrik Hölscher1,
  2. Jens Falter2,3,
  3. André Schirmeisen4

Published Online: 12 OCT 2012

DOI: 10.1002/0471266965.com150

Characterization of Materials

Characterization of Materials

How to Cite

Hölscher, H., Falter, J. and Schirmeisen, A. 2012. Atomic Force Microscopy and Spectroscopy. Characterization of Materials. 1–14.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen, Germany

  2. 2

    Center for Nanotechnology (CeNTech), Münster, Germany

  3. 3

    Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Munster, Germany

  4. 4

    Justus-Liebig-Universitat Gießen, Gießen, Germany

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 12 OCT 2012


Atomic force microscopy (AFM)—frequently also denoted as scanning force microscopy (SFM)—has developed into a workhorse for nano- and microtechnology. This technique is an offspring of scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and was also invented by Binnig et al[Binnig, G., Rohrer, H., Gerber, C., and Weibel, E. 1982. Surface studies by scanning tunneling microscopy. Phys. Rev. Lett. 49(1):57–61; Binnig, G., Quate, C. F., and Gerber, C. 1986. Atomic force microscope. Phys. Rev. Lett. 56(9):930]. Nowadays, it is used not only in physical, chemical, biological, and medical research laboratories, but also in many companies for everyday tasks like quality control. The success of the AFM is due to its high-resolution imaging capabilities in combination with its versatility, making it possible to image surfaces down to the atomic scale. Due to its universality, AFM can be applied to a large variety of samples, and it can be adapted to many different environments (gaseous, liquid, or vacuum). The atomic force microscope can be operated in different modes, which can be categorized into static and dynamic-modes. We give an introduction to the basic concepts of these two modes and present applications under different environmental conditions.


  • atomic force microscopy;
  • scanning force microscopy;
  • tapping mode;
  • friction force microscopy