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SPM: Bruker Dimension IconIR

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Photothermal atomic force microscope infrared spectroscopy (AFM-IR) combines the capabilities of atomic force microscopy, routinely used to obtain high resolution topography, electrical, mechanical, and other material properties with infrared spectroscopy, an optical technique that provides chemical identification. Combining these two techniques enables spatially resolved chemical information on the order of tens of nanometers and is not limited to the optical diffraction limit of tens of microns for a mid-infrared source.

The Bruker Dimension IconIR is a combined nanoscale IR spectroscopy and AFM system that provides the highest performance for nanoscale infrared spectroscopy and chemical imaging resolution. It builds upon the Dimension Icon, which is the world’s most used large-sample AFM platform, providing ultimate sample flexibility while retaining the measurement performance and capabilities of the Icon AFM.

Highlighted Features:

  • Sample sizes up to 150 mm
  • 90um x 90um x 12um XYZ closed loop scanner

AFM Capabilities: 

  • ScanAsyst topography mode with automatic parameter adjustment
  • PeakForce Quantitative NanoMechanical mode (PF-QNM) for fast nanomechanical mapping
  • Standard electrical suite of modes:  Magnetic Force Microscopy (MFM), Electrostatic Force Microscopy (EFM), Piezoelectric Force Microscopy (PFM)
  • PeakForce Kelvin Probe Force Microscopy (KPFM) suite: amplitude modulated (AM), frequency modulated (FM), and high voltage (HV), in combination with PeakForce or Tapping imaging modes
  • PeakForce TUNA and conductive AFM modes available with correlative nanomechanical mapping

AFM-IR Capabilities:

  • Contact Resonance and Tapping Photothermal based AFM-IR spectroscopy modes
  • Hyperspectral mapping to obtain full AFM-IR spectra mapped across areas of interest
  • MirCAT Daylight QCL Laser: 750-1850 cm-1 Spectral Coverage, 0.1-3000 kHz Pulse Repetition Rate, <1 cm-1 Spectral Resolution


Nano-Dynamic Mechanical Analysis: AFM-nDMA  provides additional maps of storage modulus, loss modulus, and loss tangent. AFM-nDMA allows for multi-frequency point measurements spanning the entire 0.1Hz to 20kHz frequency range, thereby providing comprehensive viscoelastic characterization of targeted nanoscale domains.

Research Examples

Thin film of semiconducting polymers embedded within a rubber matrix. Poly-thieno[3,2-b]thiophene-diketopyrrolopyrrole (DPPTT) is observed in height (left) and chemical composition (right) by mapping the characteristic vibrational mode at 1220 cm-1. 9 x 9 um scan. (Sample Courtesy of Lukas Michalek)

Getting Started and Training Information

In order to become a qualified user on the Bruker Dimension IconIR, you need to follow each of these steps in the order as listed here:

  1. Complete the process to become a lab member of SNSF and follow the instructions to activate a Badger account.
  2. Complete the process to become a member of SMF and complete Safety Training to access SMF using this sign-up sheet.
  3. Be a qualified user on the Bruker Icon with a minimum of 10 hours usage time over a minimum of 4 independent sessions. User must demonstrate a need for the capabilities of the IconIR that are not met by other AFMs at SNSF.
  4. Complete the SPM New User Intake Form.
  5. Complete a drivers test on the Icon to demonstrate proficiency with handling the scanner and laser and performing tapping mode.
  6. Email to consult with SNSF staff for setting up a training using the AFM or AFM-IR capability.
  7. Training on the Bruker IconIR for IR capability will require 3-4 imaging sessions:
    • Session 1: Instrument overview, sample loading, and AFM-IR fundamentals. 3 hours
    • Session 2: Hands-on review of Session 1 imaging a standard sample. 2 hours
    • Session 3: Hands-on session with users own sample. 2 hours
    • If needed, Sessions 2 or 3 may be repeated as necessary to achieve independence and confidence on the Bruker IconIR.
  8. Complete a Beginner's Permit:
    • The trainee must complete three sessions on their own samples, mounted and ready to image.
    • The sessions must be between 8:30am-5pm on different days.
    • The sessions will require a trainer to be present through the scanner loading and tip mounting process.
    • The trainee must demonstrate safety and competence in instrument operation to the satisfaction of the trainer to earn a "sign-off" and full qualification for 24-7 access.

To use the IconIR for AFM-only use, please email to consult with SNSF staff.

Note: The instrument hardware to switch between AFM-IR and AFM is handled by approved AFM lab managers only and designated training is required to use the instrument in either setting.