Which SPM is right for you?

May 08, 2024 2 min read

Which SPM is right for you?

In the vast landscape of scientific research and nanotechnology, Scanning Probe Microscopy (SPM) stands tall as a cornerstone technique for probing surfaces at the nanoscale. With applications spanning materials science, biology, chemistry, and physics, choosing the right SPM system can be a crucial decision for researchers and industry professionals alike. 

When considering which SPM system is right for you, it's essential to understand the different types available and how they align with your specific requirements.


Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM)

AFM is perhaps the most widely used SPM technique, offering high-resolution imaging and precise measurements of surface topography. AFM systems excel in versatility, allowing researchers to investigate a wide range of samples, from biological specimens to semiconductor materials. Whether you're studying surface morphology, mechanical properties, or surface interactions, AFM solutions provide the flexibility and accuracy needed for your research endeavours.


Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM)

STM enables researchers to explore the electronic properties of materials with atomic resolution. By measuring the tunneling current between a sharp tip and a sample surface, STM unveils valuable insights into surface conductivity, electronic states, and molecular structures. STM systems offer exceptional sensitivity and stability, making them ideal for studying phenomena such as quantum dots, molecular self-assembly, and surface defects.


Magnetic Force Microscopy (MFM)

MFM allows for the imaging and characterization of magnetic domains and domain walls at the nanoscale. With MFM systems, researchers can investigate magnetic materials, thin films, and magnetic nanostructures with unparalleled precision. Whether you're studying magnetic storage media, spintronics devices, or magnetic nanoparticles, MFM solutions provide the tools necessary to unravel magnetic properties at the atomic level.


Combined SPM Techniques

In addition to standalone AFM, STM, and MFM systems, integrated platforms that combine multiple SPM techniques are also being offered. These multifunctional systems empower researchers to correlate various properties simultaneously, providing a comprehensive understanding of complex nanoscale phenomena. Whether you require simultaneous topographic and electrical measurements or combined AFM-STM capabilities, integrated SPM systems offer unmatched versatility and performance.


When selecting an SPM system, it's essential to consider several factors:

  • Application: Determine the primary application of your research, whether it's surface imaging, electrical characterization, magnetic mapping, or a combination thereof.
  • Sample Compatibility: Assess the types of samples you'll be studying, including size, surface roughness, and material composition, to ensure compatibility with the chosen SPM system.
  • Resolution and Sensitivity: Evaluate the required resolution and sensitivity for your experiments, considering the smallest features of interest and the level of detail needed.
  • Budget and Scalability: Consider your budget constraints and the scalability of the chosen SPM system, ensuring it meets both your current needs and future research goals.


In conclusion, selecting the right SPM system is a critical decision that can significantly impact the outcome of your research. By carefully assessing your requirements and considering factors such as application, sample compatibility, resolution, and budget, you can confidently choose the SPM system that best suits your needs and unlocks new frontiers in nanoscience and technology.