3D image of coccolith from Northern Adriatic Sea obtained with AFM

Atomic force microscope - nanoscope

Market opportunity

Atomic force microscopy represents the method of choice for analysis and characterisation of materials in chemical, food, pharmaceutical, plastics and semiconductor industry. Applications of this method include investigation of thermal and mechanical properties as well as morphology and composition of modern polymeric materials. It is used also in the paint and polish industry for determining topography and surface roughness of coatings. Surface quality (roughness and morphology) of any dental alloy is determined using this method too. It is used also in electronics, crystallography, natural and medical sciences.

Description of service

The atomic force microscope feels short-distance atomic force interactions (0.1-10 nm) between the microscope sensor tip and specimen surface. The sensor consists of microscale cantilever with a sharp tip (SiN3, SiO2, C-nanotubes) and a spring. Spring deflection is optically detected (laser and diode). In a contact regime, forces of 10-6-10-10 N can be measured, while in noncontact regime Van der Waals forces and interactions can be measured. Intermolecular and intramolecular forces, adhesion forces, specimen elasticity and surface hardness can also be measured. By using AFM method 3D surface topography images can be obtained. It is suitable for characterisation of various macromolecules, polymers, vesicles, liquid crystals, colloids, cells and cell organelles as well as abiotic particles in the natural environment.

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AFM method shows several advantages over other microscopic methods. The method is very useful for fundamental as well as for routine materials research because it is local, non-destructive and applicable in various conditions. It should be emphasised that no preliminary sample treatment is needed and ambient air or even liquid environment measurements are possible, which is very important for studying biological macromolecules.

Service offer

Rudjer Innovations Ltd would like to offer AFM analysis service as well as related know-how and experience in the form of professional opinion to companies interested in commercial exploitation.