Atomic Force Microscope Images

Nanosurf AFMs are used for applications ranging from material characterizations to biological samples like live cells. On this page you can browse the gallery of all our published atomic force microscopy images. All AFM images in this gallery were measured with a Nanosurf AFM. For in-depth articles of specific applications, visit the application notes page.

Winners of the "Beauty of the nanoworld" image competition

Congratulations to the winners of the image competition, “Beauty of the nanoworld”. We had several qualifying entries and beautiful images of various samples. Selecting a winner was a challenging task for our panel of judges. After extensive review, the judges selected the following entries as winners of the competition. Check out the winning images.

[ Jump to STM image gallery ]
HOPG topography in static mode
HOPG topography in static mode
Atomic lattice of mica
Atomic lattice of mica
Cells imaged in medium with photothermal excitation and AC40 cantilever
Cells imaged in medium with photothermal excitation and AC40 cantilever
HeLa cells in culture medium
HeLa cells in culture medium
PFM amplitude on 2D ferroelectric CuInP2S6 on Si
PFM amplitude on 2D ferroelectric CuInP2S6 on Si
Force mapping on polymer blend (SBS-PS), Hertz model
Force mapping on polymer blend (SBS-PS), Hertz model
PS-Pb-PS triblock copolymer thin film on mica imaged at 20 Hz line rate
PS-Pb-PS triblock copolymer thin film on mica imaged at 20 Hz line rate
AFM topography of SiC showing 1.5 nm steps on its surface
AFM topography of SiC showing 1.5 nm steps on its surface
TipCheck sample with CleanDrive excitation
TipCheck sample with CleanDrive excitation
Topography of an HOPG surface imaged in air
Topography of an HOPG surface imaged in air
Atomic grid on mica measured with lateral force microscopy
Atomic grid on mica measured with lateral force microscopy
MFM and topography on artificial spin ice
MFM and topography on artificial spin ice
Quality control of CVD-grown graphene flakes on post-oxidized copper measured by friction
Quality control of CVD-grown graphene flakes on post-oxidized copper measured by fric...
3D topography of a grating structure with 390 nm deep trenches and an aspect ratio of ~2.2
3D topography of a grating structure with 390 nm deep trenches and an aspect ratio of...
Magnetic force microscopy of thin permalloy film with stripe domains
Magnetic force microscopy of thin permalloy film with stripe domains
High-resolution topography image of double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) adsorbed to mica in buffer solution
High-resolution topography image of double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) adsorbed to mica in b...
MFM images of a Shakti lattice
MFM images of a Shakti lattice
Conductive AFM on ITO
Conductive AFM on ITO
Topography of SrTiO3 in dynamic mode
Topography of SrTiO3 in dynamic mode
 Magnetic force microscopy of digital backup tape
Magnetic force microscopy of digital backup tape
Topography on multilayer graphene
Topography on multilayer graphene
KPFM on multilayer graphene
KPFM on multilayer graphene
Topography of MoS2 monolayer
Topography of MoS2 monolayer
MoS2 monolayer:  3D topography overlaid with KPFM signal
MoS2 monolayer: 3D topography overlaid with KPFM signal
Topography of locally deposited charges on an insulating oxide surface
Topography of locally deposited charges on an insulating oxide surface
KPFM of locally deposited charges on an insulating oxide surface
KPFM of locally deposited charges on an insulating oxide surface
Topography of an integrated circuit structure with multiple transistor contacts
Topography of an integrated circuit structure with multiple transistor contacts
Conductive AFM of an integrated circuit structure with multiple transistor contacts
Conductive AFM of an integrated circuit structure with multiple transistor contacts
Out of plane PFM on Lithium Niobate
Out of plane PFM on Lithium Niobate
Electrostatic force (EFM) measurements on aluminum dots deposited on gold
Electrostatic force (EFM) measurements on aluminum dots deposited on gold
Topography of polished stainless steel
Topography of polished stainless steel
Magnetic force microscopy on polished stainless steel
Magnetic force microscopy on polished stainless steel
KPFM on polished stainless steel
KPFM on polished stainless steel
Electrochemical AFM with rod-like samples: Cu deposition on a commercial Pt electrode
Electrochemical AFM with rod-like samples: Cu deposition on a commercial Pt electrode
Force mapping of living cultured cells
Force mapping of living cultured cells
AFM imaging of type I collagen fibrils
AFM imaging of type I collagen fibrils
Dynamic mode AFM of pyrene nanosheets
Dynamic mode AFM of pyrene nanosheets
Dynamic mode AFM of polished sapphire
Dynamic mode AFM of polished sapphire
AFM force spectroscopy on a polymer blend
AFM force spectroscopy on a polymer blend
AFM phase image of a polymer blend
AFM phase image of a polymer blend
AFM topography of a living HeLa cell
AFM topography of a living HeLa cell
High resolution imaging of the cytoplasmic side of bacteriorhodopsin
High resolution imaging of the cytoplasmic side of bacteriorhodopsin
Colloidal spectroscopy with FluidFM®
Colloidal spectroscopy with FluidFM®
Single Cell Force Spectroscopy
Single Cell Force Spectroscopy
Spotting and lithography with FluidFM
Spotting and lithography with FluidFM
Topography analysis of ePTFE membrane using AFM
Topography analysis of ePTFE membrane using AFM
Living Rat-2 cells
Living Rat-2 cells
Imaging DNA with the AFM
Imaging DNA with the AFM
Magnesium fluoride coating
Magnesium fluoride coating
Tissue samples
Tissue samples
Polycarbonate gratings
Polycarbonate gratings
Airplane Wing Coating
Airplane Wing Coating
Treated Nanofibers
Treated Nanofibers
Photoresin Interference Grid
Photoresin Interference Grid
CD
CD
Copolymer
Copolymer
Nanosphere Lithography
Nanosphere Lithography
Polymeric glass
Polymeric glass
Lithography on Titanium
Lithography on Titanium
Topography of solar cell layers
Topography of solar cell layers
Screw dislocations in GaN
Screw dislocations in GaN
Dynamic mode AFM on pentacene film on TiO2
Dynamic mode AFM on pentacene film on TiO2
Morphology analysis of paper
Morphology analysis of paper
Contact mode AFM of polished ceramic plate used in dentistry
Contact mode AFM of polished ceramic plate used in dentistry
Dynamic mode AFM of human hair
Dynamic mode AFM of human hair
MFM of bits on a harddisk
MFM of bits on a harddisk
AFM image of quantum dots
AFM image of quantum dots
AFM images of gold film on ceramic grains
AFM images of gold film on ceramic grains
AFM for dental implants
AFM for dental implants
AFM image of butterfly wings
AFM image of butterfly wings
Static force AFM of stainless steel
Static force AFM of stainless steel

3D Renderings of Atomic Force Microscope Images

Graphene imaged in Kelvin probe force microscopy (KPFM) mode
Graphene imaged in Kelvin probe force microscopy (KPFM) mode
Geobacter bacterium on gold substrate imaged in dynamic force mode
Geobacter bacterium on gold substrate imaged in dynamic force mode
SBS-PS polymer blend imaged in phase contrast mode
SBS-PS polymer blend imaged in phase contrast mode
Quantum dots on potassium bromide (KBr) imaged in dynamic force mode
Quantum dots on potassium bromide (KBr) imaged in dynamic force mode
Magnetic tape imaged in magnetic force microscopy (MFM) mode
Magnetic tape imaged in magnetic force microscopy (MFM) mode
Gold (Au111) imaged in scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) mode
Gold (Au111) imaged in scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) mode
Graphene like C3N imaged in scanning thermal microscopy (sThM) mode
Graphene like C3N imaged in scanning thermal microscopy (sThM) mode
dsDNA imaged in dynamic force mode
dsDNA imaged in dynamic force mode
Aluminum pillars on gold imaged in Kelvin force microscopy (KPFM) mode
Aluminum pillars on gold imaged in Kelvin force microscopy (KPFM) mode
SBRS-PMMA polymer blend imaged in force modulation mode
SBRS-PMMA polymer blend imaged in force modulation mode
Mill moth wing imaged in static force mode
Mill moth wing imaged in static force mode
Laser ablation crater in TiO2 imaged in dynamic force mode
Laser ablation crater in TiO2 imaged in dynamic force mode
SBS-PMMA polyer blend imaged in lateral force microscopy (LFM) mode
SBS-PMMA polyer blend imaged in lateral force microscopy (LFM) mode
SBR-PMMA polymer blend imaged in phase contrast mode
SBR-PMMA polymer blend imaged in phase contrast mode
DVD imaged in dynamic force mode
DVD imaged in dynamic force mode
SrTiO3 topography measured in dynamic force mode
SrTiO3 topography measured in dynamic force mode

Scanning Tunneling Microscope Images

Scanning tunneling microscopy makes it possible to see individual atoms. Since STM is based on quantum tunneling, where a voltage difference (bias) is applied between the tip and the sample surface, it only is applicable to metal surfaces or other conducting materials. View this gallery of STM images for examples of different surfaces at atomic resolution (single atoms are discernible).

[ Jump to AFM image gallery ]
Carbon nanotubes on graphene-silicon carbide
Carbon nanotubes on graphene-silicon carbide
Carbon nanotubes on HOPG
Carbon nanotubes on HOPG
Electrode surface modified with multilayers of Polyoxometalate
Electrode surface modified with multilayers of Polyoxometalate
STM image of TaS2 surface
STM image of TaS2 surface
Atomic structure of a TiS2 surface
Atomic structure of a TiS2 surface
STM study of high temperature superconducting thin films
STM study of high temperature superconducting thin films
STM on polished copper surface
STM on polished copper surface
STM Study of Evaporated Au (111) Thin Film
STM Study of Evaporated Au (111) Thin Film
STM on HOPG shows atomic resolution
STM on HOPG shows atomic resolution
Defects study and atomic structure of MoS2 crystal with STM
Defects study and atomic structure of MoS2 crystal with STM
Gold surface modification
Gold surface modification
STM imaging of 2D crystals
STM imaging of 2D crystals
STM measurements on microfabricated grid
STM measurements on microfabricated grid

About scanning probe microscopy

The field of scanning probe microscopy (SPM) began in the early 1980s with the invention of the scanning tunneling microscope (STM) by Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer, awarded with the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1986. In the same year, a major breakthrough was made with the invention of atomic force microscope (AFM) by Gerd Binning, Calvin Quate and Christoph Gerber, which continues to revolutionize nanoscale characterization and measurements ever since. Today AFM is the most popular type of SPM, causing the terminology of AFM and SPM to be often used synonymously. In case of AFM, the probe is a cantilever, generally with a tip at its free end. The superfamily of SPM probes can also include simple metal wires (as used in STM) or glass fibers (as used for scanning nearfield optical microscopy/SNOM/NSOM).

AFM includes a variety of methods in which the probe interacts with the sample in different ways to characterize various material properties, e.g. mechanical properties (e.g. adhesion, stiffness, friction, dissipation), electrical properties (e.g. capacitance, electrostatic forces, work function, electrical current), magnetic properties, and optical spectroscopic properties. In addition to imaging, the AFM probe can be used to manipulate, write, or even pull on substrates in lithography and molecular pulling experiments.

Due to its flexibility, the atomic force microscope has become a common tool for material characterization alongside optical and electron microscopy, achieving resolutions down to the nanometer scale and beyond. The AFM can operate in environments from ultra-high vacuum to fluids, and therefore cuts across all disciplines from physics and chemistry to biology and materials science.

The AFM principle is based on the cantilever/tip assembly that interacts with the sample (probe). This AFM tip interacts with the substrate through a raster scanning motion. The up/down and side to side motion of the tip as it scans along the surface is monitored through a laser beam reflected off the cantilever. This reflected laser beam is tracked by a position sensitive photo-detector that picks up the vertical and lateral deflection of the cantilever. The deflection sensitivity of these detectors has to be calibrated in terms of how many nanometers of motion correspond to a unit of voltage measured on the detector. From the data gained through these different methods of scanning, an image is created.

Read our detailed theory section on "How does AFM work?"