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SPM: Park XE-70 & Park XE-100

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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 XE-70 is dedicated to Non-Contact AFM mode, and Park-approved ACTA tips are provided. The XE-100 can be utilized for a variety of specialized modes, including:

  • Contact AFM
  • True Non-Contact AFM
  • Lateral Force Microscopy  
  • Force Distance Spectroscopy
  • Phase Imaging
  • Conductive Atomic Force (I-AFM) Microscopy
  • Electric Force Microscopy (EFM, DC-EFM, External EFM)
  • Force Modulation Microscopy

The Park XE-100 microscope also features a dynamic liquid cell for fluid imaging and a heating stage for controlled elevated temperature studies (up to 250 °C).

Research Examples

MFM image showing four different sizes of bit patterns of a perpendicular magnetic recording media (hard disk). scan size 5x5 um. Credit: Roy Kim
Image of atomically flat surface. The step height is just one lattice unit cell! (0.4nm). Credit: Zixuan Guan

Getting Started and Training Information

In order to become a qualified user on the Park XE-70 or XE-100, 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. Access the online training by clicking here. Select the Scanning Probe & Atomic Force Microscopy icon at the bottom of the screen. Complete the Theory, Practical, and Assessments tabs of the online training module. Save the “Virtual SPM” image from the Practical tab and “Test Results” from the Assessments tab for the new user intake form.
  3. Complete the safety training to Access McCullough.
  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.