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Operations During COVID-19

SPM: Park NX-10

Overview

Scanning Probe Microscopy (SPM) generally refers to a set of surface characterization techniques that utilize micro-machined cantilever probes with sharp tips to scan the sample surface. Since its inception in the 1980s, SPM has evolved into one of the most powerful tools for nanoscale measurement and imaging. High resolution topographical surface characterization is perhaps the most common use of the SPM, but a wide range of advanced SPM modes are also available to study the electrical, magnetic, and mechanical properties of surfaces. 

We have three Park Systems scanning probe microscopes: XE-70, XE-100 and NX-10. Unlike conventional tube scanner technology, the Park systems feature decoupled flexure-guided X, Y and Z scanners with zero background curvature. The Z-servo response is also considerably higher than that of conventional tube scanners, thus enabling true Non-Contact mode. The machine accommodates samples up to 100 mm in diameter and has a maximum scan size of 50 X 50 μm (5 X 5 μm in low-voltage mode). The Z range is 12 μm (1.7 μm in low-voltage mode). The XE-70 setup includes direct on-axis optics with manual Z focus stage. Additionally, XE-100 and NX-10 have automated Z control with the “Focus Follow” feature. Finally, The NX-10 has an automated motorized XY stage in addition to the scanner.

The Park microscopes are situated on vibration isolation systems and within hermetically sealed acoustic enclosures to ensure a very low noise floor for high resolution imaging. 

The Park NX-10 microscope features an improved liquid cell for fluid imaging and force-distance measurements. It is equipped with a heating stage for work with biological samples. Gas and liquid flow are also possible with the cell and the components are available. In addition to that, NX-10 is equipped with a high speed high accuracy NI-DAQ module for reading and even sending driving signals to the AFM for the most advanced users. This can be very useful for developmental work.

Research Examples

Morphology of fibrillar assemblies. AFM height images (A,B). Height profiles of the fibrils for lines marked on the images (C,D) [Inayathullah et al. PLoS ONE, 2013, 8(12), e85160]. Scale bar represents 500nm

Getting Started and Training Information

In order to become a qualified user on the Park NX-10, 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 SNSF COVID-19 Authorization protocol and receive notification of authorization.
  3. Complete the Theory, Practical, and Assessments tabs of the online training module (save the “Virtual SPM” image and screenshot of “Assessment Score”).
  4. Complete the SPM New User Intake Form.

Basic training for SPM requires one 2-hour group session followed by a second, one-on-one session, ideally with the trainee’s own sample. Those interested in training should contact the SPM lab managers to make an appointment. Additional training in specific SPM techniques will be available on as as-needed basis following completion of the basic training.