Fully Motorized Tip Scanning AFM: DriveAFM

Nanosurf’s DriveAFM is the company’s new flagship instrument that uses the latest technology to provide stable, superior performance. It has been designed specifically to meet the requirements of top-level research, at present and in the future.

  • Direct drive—large scan area and high-resolution imaging
  • CleanDrive—stable excitation in liquid and air
  • Fully motorized system—complete control through software
  • Ultra-low noise

Video Credit: Nanosurf AG

CleanDrive: Stability in Air and Liquid with Photothermal Excitation

The cantilever is excited photothermally, thus offering unmatched stability, a linear frequency response, and a high excitation bandwidth in both air and liquid environments. These advantages not only facilitate measurements at different frequencies and for high-speed applications but also pave the way for new, innovative measurement modes (for example, Cytomass Monitor).

These advantages are higher in liquids because only the cantilever beam is excited, while the liquid environment stays largely undisturbed. This ensures clean resonance peaks and avoids the 'forest of peaks' usually encountered during the piezo-acoustic excitation of cantilevers.

This technique of exciting the cantilever is not influenced by distance to the sample and changes in the environment, which renders the entire measurement system quite stable.

The small light spots of the DriveAFM make it compatible with small cantilevers, offering many benefits that make the cantilevers superior in performance. Although the small cantilevers exhibit the same spring constant as a traditional cantilever, they exhibit a considerably higher operational bandwidth and resonance frequency.

The noise performance is also better. Thanks to the small dimensions, hydrodynamic drag is reduced and sensitivity is improved. All these lead to improved imaging performance.

Photothermal excitation of the cantilever is the new best practice for high-performance AFM systems. The animation shows how the cantilever is actuated by an oscillating laser hitting the base of the cantilever beam. Video Credit: Nanosurf AG

Ultra-Low Noise

The overall noise floor of the DriveAFM is very low, which is realized by the combination of a low-noise/high-bandwidth photodetector and a low-noise/low-coherence superluminescent diode used in the low-noise/high-bandwidth CX Controller and the beam deflection detection module. This is the foundation for the high-resolution, sensitive, and stable imaging and force spectroscopy potential of the DriveAFM.

Image Credit: Nanosurf AG

Direct Drive Scanner

The DriveAFM utilizes the power of direct drive piezo actuation. The non-geared, 1:1 actuation scheme of the flexure scanner of the DriveAFM offers more force and can drive stiffer scanners.

The resulting increase in the resonance frequency of the scanner components facilitates a higher available actuation bandwidth than what is achieved with geared drives of the same scan size. In combination with the low-noise 28-bit CX Controller, the direct drive scanner actuation facilitates imaging at both high resolution and large scales.

The DriveAFM is the best solution for high-resolution imaging of difficult samples like proteins, polymeric structures (for example, DNA), or nanostructures, as well as larger, micrometer-sized structures.

Full Motorization

The DriveAFM is the first-ever fully motorized AFM system that can be combined with an inverted optical microscope. The fully motorized control of the adjustment of two light sources for the beam deflection detection system and the CleanDrive photothermal excitation, as well as the photodetector, can be realized with the software.

The approach of the tip to the sample is also motorized. The complete motorization not just ensures ease of use but also enables new possibilities to automate the system fully.

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