Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy

Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy
Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy

Atomic Force Microscopy - Much more than pretty images

Peter Grutter
Physics Department, McGill University

Date: Friday, Jan. 17, 2014
Time: 1:30 PM
Location: Stirling A


Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) is a technique that allows atomic scale spatial resolution on essentially any material, including insulators and metals, in essentially any environment: from ultra high vacuum to liquids, at temperatures of several 100K down to mK. These images allow extraction of detailed structural information, in particular when combined with state of the art modeling. Many properties, such as electrical surface potential, elasticity, yield stress, adhesion or friction can be measured and correlated to structure, often as a function of external parameters such as light or electrochemical potential. Completing this 'nanolab' is the capability of AFM to manipulate objects. In this colloquium I will concentrate on structure-property AFM experiments that can give us fundamental insights in fields which have major potential for important applications. Some of the fundamental questions one might address are: how is charge separated in organic photovoltaics? What determines Li mobility in batteries? How does the electrical conductivity of a nanometer scale contact depend on mechanical properties? What induces the formation of a synapse in a neuron? By drawing on several examples from my research group to illustrate these capabilities I will demonstrate how state-of-the-art AFM goes well beyond being a tool to make 'pretty' images.