Optical Beam Deflection Based AFM with Integrated Hardware and Software Platform for an Undergraduate Engineering Laboratory

Abstract

Atomic force microscopy (AFM) has been used extensively in nanoscience research since its invention. Recently, many teaching laboratories in colleges, undergraduate institutions, and even high schools incorporate AFM as an effective teaching tool for nanoscience education. This paper presents an optical beam deflection (OBD) based atomic force microscope, designed specifically for the undergraduate engineering laboratory as a teaching instrument. An electronic module for signal conditioning was built with components that are commonly available in an undergraduate electronic laboratory. In addition to off-the-shelf mechanical parts and optics, the design of custom-built mechanical parts waskept as simple as possible. Hence, the overall cost for the setup is greatly reduced. The AFM controller was developed using National Instruments Educational Laboratory Virtual Instrumentation Suite (NI ELVIS), an integrated hardware and software platform which can be programmed in LabVIEW. A simple yet effective control algorithm for scanning and feedback control was developed. Despite the use of an educational platform and low-cost components from the undergraduate laboratory, the developed AFM is capable of performing imaging in constant-force mode with submicron resolution and at reasonable scanning speed (approximately 18 min per image). Therefore, the AFM is suitable to be used as an educational tool for nanoscience. Moreover, the construction of the system can be a valuable educational experience for electronic and mechanical engineering students.

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Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Loh2017OpticalBD, title={Optical Beam Deflection Based AFM with Integrated Hardware and Software Platform for an Undergraduate Engineering Laboratory}, author={Siu Hong Loh and Wei Jie Cheah}, year={2017} }