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AFM instrument

To image and characterize sample surfaces scanning probe microscopy (SPM) is always considered to be a versatile technique. At JCNS-2 we are equipped with the NEW high precision Agilent 5400 SPM/Atomic Force Microscope (AFM), for imaging surfaces at room temperature with superior spatial resolution.

The Agilent 5400 AFM/SPM microscope includes an open-loop X-Y & Z scanner (two scan ranges available: 9-µm or 90-µm) for contact mode, acoustic AC mode and phase imaging. MAC Mode, an extraordinarily gentle non-contact AFM imaging technique, enables electric force microscopy (EFM), magnetic force microscopy (MFM), and force modulation. Its compact scanner employs a balanced-pendulum design to minimize X-Y coupling, significantly reducing creep and hysteresis. The scanner can also be repositioned in Z to accommodate larger samples up to 21-mm in thickness.

The Agilent 5400 utilizes a low-coherence laser with a small spot size for low-interference imaging. The laser is always focused on the same spot on the cantilever, providing absolute accuracy in very sensitive measurements (e.g., force measurements) and helps eliminate imaging artifacts. The Agilent 5400 scans at speeds up to 48-Hz and can scan as many as 8 images simultaneously (4096 × 4096 pixels). With modified in-house-techniques the AFM is also combined with Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy (SECM) capabilities to study mechanism at the electrode-electrolyte interface down to the (sub)-nanometer level.For the preparation of thin films the JCNS-2 has two high pressure sputter chambers and two oxide assisted molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) systems. One of the Oxide MBE machines is stationed at the JCNS Outstation at the MLZ in Garching as a user facility.

While in the sputter chambers the material for the film growth is put in as a target with the right stoichiometry, in the Oxide MBE a stoichiometric growth is achieved by tuning the rates of the different element sources.  The MBEs are equipped with RHEED, LEED and AES for in-situ characterization of the substrates and thin films. With the AES element resolved depth profiles can be obtained with the in-situ Argon ion gun. This ion gun can be used to structure the samples with 100µm resolution as well.

MFM imageMFM. image of FePd thin film showing the magnetic domain structure.