AFM Control System for Video Rate Imaging and Manipulation


Executive Summary


Atomic force microscopes (AFM), are a very high-resolution type of scanning probe microscope. Imaging speeds, however, are limited by the inertia and resonances of the scanning systems and of the AFM cantilever. It is desirable to increase the scan speed of applications without the need to make physical changes to the dynamics of the cantilever.  It would also be desirable to be able to more precisely position the cantilever to a desired and repeatable location. The sparse sampling methodology developed here meets those needs.


Description of Technology


Michigan State University has developed technology utilizing sensing and control technology for video rate (fast scan) imaging, manipulation and motion control in scanning AFM. The scanning rate of these systems is increased by means of a compressed scan instead of scanning the entire area. This provides the possibility of AFM-based fast scan systems. The AFM scans the sample under control by the fast scan algorithm and then reconstructs a full image by the compressive sensing recovery algorithms. For precise positioning a comparison of the difference of the current position image and the desired position image is sent to a controller. The controller will enable the AFM to achieve sub-nanometer resolution and repeatable positioning.


Key Benefits

  • Sub nanometer level resolution.
  • Scan images faster producing real time images of dynamic processes.
  • No AFM hardware modifications needed



  • Biomedical
  • Genetics
  • Material Science
  • Physics
  • Nanomanufacturing automation
  • Manufacturing quality assurance: visualization tool


Patent Status: 


Patent Pending US 2015-0042781


Licensing Rights Available


Full licensing rights available


Inventors: Ning Xi, Bo Song, Jianguo Zhao, and Wai Chiu King Lai


Tech ID: TEC2012-0004


Patent Information:

For Information, Contact:

Raymond Devito
Technology Manager
Michigan State University