atomic force microscope

(redirected from Atomic force probe)
Also found in: Dictionary.
Related to Atomic force probe: Atomic force microscope

atomic force microscope

(AFM), device that uses a spring-mounted probe to image individual atoms on the surface of a material, first developed by Gerd BinnigBinnig, Gerd
, 1947–, German physicist, Ph.D. Univ. of Frankfurt, 1978. At the IBM Research Laboratory in Zürich, Binnig and fellow researcher Heinrich Rohrer built the first scanning tunneling microscope, an instrument so sensitive that it can distinguish individual
..... Click the link for more information.
 in 1986. Unlike the scanning tunneling microscopescanning tunneling microscope
(STM), device for studying and imaging individual atoms on the surfaces of materials. The instrument was invented in the early 1980s by Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer, who were awarded the 1986 Nobel prize in physics for their work.
..... Click the link for more information.
, which is also a scanning probe microscope, the AFM can be used on materials that do not conduct electricity. In the original AFM, the probe traverses the surface, moving upward due to bumps and downward due to depressions; a laserlaser
[acronym for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation], device for the creation, amplification, and transmission of a narrow, intense beam of coherent light. The laser is sometimes referred to as an optical maser.
..... Click the link for more information.
 beam reflected from the tip of the probe measures the up and down movements, and the pattern of reflected light creates an image of the surface. Another type of AFM measures the sideways deflection of the tip caused by friction as the probe moves across the surface; differences in friction can be used distinguish different atoms and molecules on the material. A third variation employs a magnetic probe; this probe does not touch the material but moves up and down in reaction to the magnetic forces between the tip and the surface. In a microchip-size AFM, the electronic circuitry and multiple probes are integrated on a sliver of silicon; although less sensitive than a full-size AFM, the device has applications in microelectronicsmicroelectronics,
branch of electronic technology devoted to the design and development of extremely small electronic devices that consume very little electric power. Although the term is sometimes used to describe discrete electronic components assembled in an extremely small
..... Click the link for more information.
 where the multiple probes make it possible to record images very quickly.

atomic force microscope

[ə¦täm·ik ¦fȯrs ′mī¦krə‚skōp]
(engineering)
A device for mapping surface atomic structure by measuring the force acting on the tip of a sharply pointed wire or other object that is moved over the surface.