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SK2740 Introduction to Scanning Probe Microscopy 6.0 credits

Intermodulation Atomic Force microscopy allows for high resolution maps of both the conservative and dissipative interaction of the tip with the surface.  The 3D topography plot uses color to show the dissipated energy in atto Joules (1aJ = 16eV), or energy lost per oscillation cycle when a stiff silicon tip impacts a soft polymer surface.  The sample is a blend of polystyrene and amorphous polycaprolactone.

Course offering missing for current semester as well as for previous and coming semesters
Headings with content from the Course syllabus SK2740 (Autumn 2010–) are denoted with an asterisk ( )

Content and learning outcomes

Course contents

The course is designed for students from a wide variety of educational backgrounds, from Physics, Chemistry and Biology, who would like to learn about the technical details of how SPM's work, and the possibilities and pitfalls in interpreting the images that SPM's produce. We will look in detail at some of the many different modes of SPM usage, with particular emphasis on Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) and its many variations.

  • SPM overview
  • Scanners, Sensors, Feedback and Control
  • Cantilevers and Tips, Force Measurements
  • Fluctuations, Noise and Fundamental Limits
  • Surface Forces, Adhesion and Friction
  • AFM Colloidal Probe Technique
  • Nonlinear Cantilever Dynamics
  • SPM Application in Industry

Intended learning outcomes

The objective is to offer students an opportunity to learn the theory of operation of scanning probe microscopes, and to gain hands-on understanding of scanning probe microscope operation, with particular emphasis on the Atomic Force Microscope (AFM). To teach the fundamental physical principals behind the two basic modes of AFM, as well as to give a survey of the many variations of these two modes used in specialized measurment methods. Armed with this understanding and intuition, students should be able to:

  • better interpret the images produced by the AFM and the measurements made by AFM that they encounter in the research literature
  • finish with a deeper understanding of AFM and become more knowledgible users of the instrument.

Course disposition

No information inserted

Literature and preparations

Specific prerequisites

A degree in mathematics, physics, chemistry or material science at the bachelor level.

Recommended prerequisites

A good undergraduate training in Physics, Chemistry or Biology


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Various articles, lecture notes, and training manuals, made available to participating students.

Examination and completion

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

Grading scale

A, B, C, D, E, FX, F


  • LAB1 - Laboratory Work, 3,0 hp, betygsskala: A, B, C, D, E, FX, F
  • PRO1 - Project, 3,0 hp, betygsskala: A, B, C, D, E, FX, 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.

Other requirements for final grade

Attendance to the lectures and labs. Each of the two labs in the course requires a written report (LAB1, 3 hp, grading scale A-F). Students with sufficient mathematical background will do a computer simulation project, others not comfortable with this simulation project will do a literature project. These projects will require a written report (PRO1, 3 hp, grading scale A-F).

Opportunity to complete the requirements via supplementary examination

No information inserted

Opportunity to raise an approved grade via renewed examination

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Profile picture David B Haviland

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 SK2740

Offered by

SCI/Applied undergraduate Physics

Main field of study

Engineering Physics

Education cycle

Second cycle

Add-on studies

No information inserted


David B Haviland (