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High-speed atomic force microscopy

Project members:  S. Kuiper, J.R. van Hulzen, prof. G. Schitter
Keywords:  Robotics and mechatronics, Learning and adaptive control, Optimization-based control, Optics and imaging, Old - project will be removed
Sponsored by:  NWO, Delft University of Technology
Atomic force microscopes (AFM) enable insights into the nanoworld, visualizing even single molecules and atoms. Taking images, however, is time consuming and does not allow observation of dynamic processes on the nanometer scale with the required temporal resolution.

In this project the research focuses on key challenges for the next generation of AFMs, which are based on a new mechanical design in combination with high-performance control techniques. A new generation AFM is developed that will be used for real-time imaging (up to video-rates at 25 frames per second) e.g. of biological processes. This new instrument will enable experiments that investigate significant problems in nanotechnology and biotechnology. It will be possible to study biological and chemical processes on the molecular level in real-time as they occur in nature.


This series of images of rat tail collagen illustrates how high-speed AFM allows zooming in on areas of interest rapidly [1]. Collagen's characteristic 67-nm banding pattern is clearly resolved. This entire zoom series was taken in less than 1 second. A conventional AFM would need about 15 min of imaging to obtain a comparable series of images.

[1] P.K. Hansma, G. Schitter, G.E. Fantner, C. Prater, Science 314, 601 (2006)

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