Combining functionality and simplicity with the CoreAFM

Nanosurf’s CoreAFM is a compact, economical research AFM that provides a combination of simplicity and functionality by incorporating the main components of AFM to realize user-friendliness and versatility.

Compact and Complete

The CoreAFM is a fusion of an advanced flexure-guided scanner, camera, XYZ sample stage, a fully digital 32-bit controller and acoustic shielding in a single all-in-one unit. This results in a complete AFM system with an unrivaled compact footprint.

All of the main functions of an advanced AFM are inbuilt components of the CoreAFM system, so just USB and connecting power are necessary for a completely operational CoreAFM.


A closed scanner compartment features acoustic and air current isolation, while sample stage positioners still allow you to adjust your sample


When the scanner compartment is opened, it provides access to the scanner and sample stage, e.g. to place a new sample for measurement

CoreAFM with Controller 45°

CoreAFM with Controller 45°

Powerful and Versatile

Advanced electronics with 24-bit ADC and DAC allow high-resolution XYZ driving of the 100×100×12 µm scanner and enables low-noise force detection restricted only by the cantilever. There are 32 standard and optional modes with entirely compatible add-ons that make the CoreAFM an ideal tool for applications, spanning from electrochemistry and materials research to life science. Starting from the typical CoreAFM system, its functionality can be perfectly broadened.


A deeper system integration of the Isostage is seen in the advanced SpikeGuard, which prevents hiccups during imaging. Although the Isostage is an active vibration isolation system, hiccups can still arise when distortions are extreme. SpikeGuard spots these types of glitches and rescans the line for images with no distortion.

Included Measurement Modes

The CoreAFM can perform Static force, Dynamic force, Lateral force, Force modulation, Phase imaging, MFM, Standard spectroscopy and Standard lithography out of the box.

Core AFM mode kits can also be utilized to improve the measurement experience.

Standard Mode Kits

The CoreAFM by default is provided with the static force, dynamic force, and phase imaging mode kits to assist users to get started at once. Based on the measurement mode, a mode kit may include samples, appropriate cantilevers, activation keys, or a combination of components.

Supplementary standard-level mode kits that can be acquired independently are the standard liquid kit, standard MFM mode kit, standard spectroscopy kit, force modulation kit, standard lithography kit, and lateral force mode kit.

Advanced Functionality

Advanced AFM modes and functionality such as sample heating, environmental control, scripting, and others can easily be incorporated to the CoreAFM.

System Specifications

The following table gives the scanner specifications:

Max. scan range (XY) 100 µm < 5 nm flatness
Max. height range (Z) 12 µm closed loop
Detector noise (RMS) typ. 60 pm max. 100 pm
Sensor noise (RMS) typ. 180 pm max. 250 pm
Dynamic noise (RMS) typ. 40 pm max. 70 pm
Static noise (RMS) typ. 100 pm max. 200 pm


The following table provides the controller specifications:

Scan control and inputs 24-bit ADC/DAC 200 kHz
Digital lock-in (2×) 16-bit ADC/DAC 20 MHz
User in/out, Excitation in 24-bit ADC/DAC 5 MHz, 10 V
Digital sync 2-bit line/frame sync out 5 V, TTL
Thermal tuning 10 Hz – 2 MHz
FPGA, 32-bit CPU, 256 MB RAM programmable USB 2.0


Value for Money

Cables and connectors between the controller and scanner, acoustic shielding, additional controller casing, camera housing, etc. are not necessary because of the minimalist and integrated design approach of the CoreAFM. This also ensures that every remaining component is significant to its function.

Example of the thought and design processes that went into the development of the CoreAFM and its accessories, all leading to lower overall costs and higher reusability

Example of the thought and design processes that went into the development of the CoreAFM and its accessories, all leading to lower overall costs and higher reusability

The CoreAFM and its accessories have been engineered as part of a reliable system concept. The result is an integrated, versatile, excellent-quality, and high-performance AFM system that offers the leading commercial price-to-performance attribute. An atomic force microscope that is powerful, user-friendly, and easily extendable.

Primary Add-On Functionality

  • Isostage 300H - Active vibration isolation table with advanced SpikeGuard feature
  • Conductive AFM mode option - Offers a conductive cantilever holder and current measurements from 10 nA - 100 µA to facilitate electrical AFM modes
  • Basic FPM option - FluidFM®-compatible cantilever holder to permit the use of FluidFM® probes from Cytosurge
  • Advanced MFM option - Adds a two-fold pass contour-following mode to improve MFM/EFM imaging quality
  • Environmental control option - The sample environment can be regulated by a sealing ring and a flexible enclosure between scanner and sample holder
  • Temperature control package - Has a sample holder and temperature controller to heat samples from room temperature up to 120 °C
  • Advanced lithography option - Combines the nano-printing mode and the option to read CAD vector data for lithography
  • Signal I/O option - Extension for user-specified experiments (digital sync output, 24-bit ADC/DAC, Z-feedback on user input, deflection/friction signal outputs, and excitation input)
  • Scripting interface option - Enables AFM control via scripts, LabView, and other programming languages that support Microsoft COM automation
  • Petri dish option - Sample holder for liquid or bio applications that use Petri dishes
  • Electrochemistry option - A sample holder with specially-designed cell and electrode pads simplifies electrochemical AFM experiments
  • Advanced spectroscopy option - Combines the possibility for large spec maps, real-time spec map analysis, spec curve process stop-by-value, and pause times

Secondary Add-On Functionality

  • EFM mode kit - Provides a sample for KPFM and EFM measurements
  • Advanced PFM option - Enables a secondary lock-in to measure piezo forces while imaging
  • Advanced conductive AFM option - Sample holder with inbuilt current pre-amplifier for low current measurement - down to pA range
  • Advanced KPFM option - Enables a secondary lock-in and tip voltage feedback controller to measure Kelvin forces while imaging
  • Nano-thermal analysis option - Offers the cantilevers, cantilever holder, and electronics to perform local heat dissipation measurements
  • SICM option - Combines a low-current, low-noise pre-amplifier and accessories that facilitate scanning ion current imaging to enhance resolution on soft materials in liquid
  • Scanning thermal microscopy option - Offers the cantilevers, cantilever holder, and electronics to perform SThM
  • Advanced FPM option - Combines a FluidFM microfluidics control system from Cytosurge to facilitate pressure controlled FluidFM experiments
  • Bio-sample heater option - Adds heating electronics to the Petri dish option to enable heating of fluids up to 45 °C
  • FluidFM spotting - Allows users to perform spotting by supplying liquids in the sub-femtoliter range
  • FluidFM nanolithography - Allows users to perform nanolithography by dispensing liquids to create µm-sized structures
  • FluidFM colloidal spectroscopy - Allows users to conduct colloidal spectroscopy in large measurement series through rapidly exchangeable spheres

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