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FSK3741 Introduction to Scanning Probe Microscopy 7.5 credits

The course gives an introduction to Scanning Probe Microscopy (SPM), designed for PhD students in Physics, Chemistry or Biology who use the SPM for the research projects. The emphasis is on understanding the theory of operation, and practical hands-on usage of SPMs.

Course offering missing for current semester as well as for previous and coming semesters
Headings with content from the Course syllabus FSK3741 (Spring 2022–) are denoted with an asterisk ( )

Content and learning outcomes

Course contents

The course is designed for students with different education backgrounds, from Physics, Chemistry and Biology, who would like to learn about the technical details of how SPMs work, and the possibilities and pitfalls in interpreting SPM images. We will focus primarily on Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) and the particular details of some of its many modes of operation. Including: 

  • Scanners, sensors and feedback control
  • Cantilevers and tips, imaging artifacts
  • Fluctuations, noise and the fundamental limits on force sensitivity
  • Force-distance curves and quasi-static force measurement
  • Nonlinaer cantilever dynamics and dynamic force measurement
  • Surface forces and bulk elastic forces in AFM.
  • Lateral force and measuring friction with the AFM.
  • Electrostatic forces and measuring surface potential.

Intended learning outcomes

  • Theoretical understanding of how SPM's work.
  • Interpretation of images created by SPM's.
  • Hands-on practical experience operating SPM's.

Course disposition

There are 8 theory lectures at two hours each, 4 laboratory exercises involving measurements in the Albanova Nanolab. Each lab requires data analysis and a written lab report that will be graded. Each student will make an oral presentation to the class, reviewing a research paper where SPM was used in their field of research. The presentation will include detailed explanation of the particular technique used in the paper. 

Literature and preparations

Specific prerequisites

Acceptance to a Masters program, or a Masters degree in Physics, Chemistry or Biology. Experience of complex laboratory equipment.

Recommended prerequisites

Experience in working with complex laboratory equipment. Good computer skills. Ability to write a clear, correct and concise text in English. 


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Examination and completion

If the course is discontinued, students may request to be examined during the following two academic years.

Grading scale

P, F


  • LAB1 - Laboratory work, 1.5 credits, grading scale: P, F
  • LAB2 - Laboratory work, 1.5 credits, grading scale: P, F
  • LAB3 - Laboratory work, 1.5 credits, grading scale: P, F
  • LAB4 - Laboratory work, 1.5 credits, grading scale: P, F
  • TENA - Oral exam, 1.5 credits, grading scale: P, F

Based on recommendation from KTH’s coordinator for disabilities, the examiner will decide how to adapt an examination for students with documented disability.

The examiner may apply another examination format when re-examining individual students.

Opportunity to complete the requirements via supplementary examination

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Opportunity to raise an approved grade via renewed examination

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Ethical approach

  • All members of a group are responsible for the group's work.
  • In any assessment, every student shall honestly disclose any help received and sources used.
  • In an oral assessment, every student shall be able to present and answer questions about the entire assignment and solution.

Further information

Course web

Further information about the course can be found on the Course web at the link below. Information on the Course web will later be moved to this site.

Course web FSK3741

Offered by

Main field of study

This course does not belong to any Main field of study.

Education cycle

Third cycle

Add-on studies

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David Haviland (

Postgraduate course

Postgraduate courses at SCI/Applied Physics