Introduction to Scanning Probe Microscopy

Log in to your course web

You are not logged in KTH, so we cannot customize the content.

This course is now offered every other year.  Next run is period 4, spring term 2021.

The Scanning Probe Microscope (SPM) is used in many areas of science and technology.  This course will give an overview of SPM, concentrating on one particular branch of SPM methods, known collectively as Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM).  AFM can be used to study the surfaces of many different material types, form hard materials used in the semiconductor industry, to soft materials such as polymers or biological membranes.   AFM can image samples which are fixed to a surface, in ambient or liquid environments, and with very high contrast for changes in the height of the sample surface. The AFM is not only a microscope, but also a powerful analytical tool. Force measurements between a scanning tip and the sample surface can be made with very high spatial resolution, revealing information about the surface composition and structure.

Both dissipative and conservative forces can be reconstructed with Intermodulation AFM. 

A surface property map showing the adhesion force for a butylacrylate film on a Si wafer.

The course is designed for students and researchers from a wide variety of scientific disciplines and educational backgrounds. The course will give an overview of AFM instruments,  theory of operation,  and various imaging modes and measuring techniques.   This course is a good starting point for students wishing to use the AFM in their own research, or if they already have AFM experience, to learn new AFM techniques.   It is hoped that participants will gain a deeper understanding of the theory of AFM and learn how to better interpret their own AFM measurements, as well as those in the scientific literature.

The course will consist of 10 lectures and 4 labs.  To receive 6 credits for the course, students are required to:
    - Attend all lectures and labs.
    - Receive a passing grade on all lab reports.
    - PhD students are given an extra assignment related to their research project.

A schedule of the lectures can be found in the KTH scheduler.  The labs will be scheduled as the courses progresses.

Masters students should register for SK2740, PhD students should register for SK3740.


A good sense of physical apparatus and computer interfaces are needed to properly use this rather complex system. The lectures will attempt to summarize at a basic level, however, some mathematical analysis will be used.  Perhaps not all students will follow all aspects of every lecture, but the general picture will be stressed and discussed in simpler terms.  Laboratory reports will include questions for homework that are tailored to the students background and level. 

Course Literature:

We will use literature distributed via a restricted access website (Link). PDF files of the lecture material will also be made available after each lecture.

Link to course material (under password protection)


Feedback News