Table of Contents

AFM upkeep

To keep the AFM running smoothly a number of things must be done.

Tip supplies

For topographical imaging we use 40 N/m Si tips with an aluminum reflex coating (to increase the reflection of the diode laser and increase our signal/noise ratio). We have been buying Tap300Al-G from BudgetSensors. We buy by the wafer, but only keep 10-15 tips in our community gel pack. Tips will need to be replaced from the wafer as they are used, and every month or two the gel pack needs to be replaced as it becomes dirty with 'silicon dust'.

Electrical applications

For electrical applications we use metal coated tips.

Gold tips are useful for making good electrical contact to microchip electronics such as nanotubes. However, gold is soft at the coating tends to rub off quickly during AC mode imaging. To minimize this image in attractive mode before doing electrical probing. Another drawback of gold is that you can sometimes deposit gold on your surface if you apply a negative bias to the tip.

Platinum-coated tips may also be used. The platinum coating is more robust than gold, so these tips can easily image in repulsive AC mode. These tips are also useful for more aggressive electrical chores such as charge writing or cutting and nicking CNTs.


Useful software is stored on the T drive under T:\Physics\Minot Group\Software\MFP-3D software\

Software updates

Asylum fixes bugs and adds new features to the AFM software. Every few months the software should be upgraded to the latest version.

  • Log in with our account
  • Go here to get their latest stable code
    • Don't get anything labeled 'beta', it is still in testing
  • The download might be in .zip format. If so, unzip it by right-clicking and choosing 'extract'
  • Once you get the .exe file run it and follow the directions
Creating a template

Once a new version is installed, it's a service to the group to prepare a template that everyone will run. Here is the common procedure for preparing the template file:

  • Open the Asylum software
  • Change the default save path to T:\Physics\Minot Group\
  • Ensure the default operation is AC mode
    • In the Master Panel select 'AC Mode' in the 'Imaging Mode' drop-down menu
  • Turn off the ARgyle-style displays
    • Go to the Master Channel Panel
    • Go to the 'Height' tab
    • Uncheck the box marked 'Use Argyle'
  • Turn off save flattening
    • Go to the Master Channel Panel
    • Go to the 'Height' tab
    • In the 'Image Modification' section, choose 'none' in the 'Saved' drop-down menu
  • Turn off saving z-sensor data
    • Ensure you're in AC Mode (see above)
    • Go to the Master Channel Panel
    • Go to the 'ZSensor' tab
    • Select 'off' in the 'Input' drop-down menu
  • Enable high-resolution data along the fast scan direction
    • Go to the Master Panel
    • Click the 'Setup' buttom at the bottom
    • Uncheck the 'Show?' check box next to 'Points & Lines'
    • Check the 'Show?' check box next to 'Points'
    • Check the 'Show?' check box next to 'Lines'
    • Click the 'Looks good' button at the bottom
    • Change the 'Scan Points' box to 1024
  • Make any other changes you want to see in the software
  • Save the new template file, and prevent others from changing it
    • Click 'File' → 'Save experiment as…'
    • Save the experiment file in the Asylum folder using the .pxt format
    • Locate the file you just saved
    • Right-click on the file and choose 'properties'
    • Mark the check box next to 'Read Only'
    • Choose 'apply' then 'OK'
  • Make the new template file the one that opens from everyone's desktop
    • Right-click on the Asylum shortcut on your desktop, and choose 'properties'
    • In the 'target' box there are two files separated by quotes: “C:\Program Files (x86)\WaveMetrics\Igor Pro Folder\Igor.exe” “C:\Program Files (x86)\WaveMetrics\Igor Pro Folder\AsylumResearch\Code3D\MFP3D Template.pxt”
    • Change the second file to the location of your new template file
    • Choose 'apply' then 'OK'
Installing software on a new computer

It is useful to install the AFM software on other computers throughout the lab to help with offline data viewing and analysis.

  • Install Igor from the CD
  • Update Igor to 6.22a
    • This update is located here: T:\Physics\Minot Group\Software\MFP-3D software\Update Igor6.1 to 6.22a.exe
  • Install the Asylum Research code
    • We keep the latest version on the T drive here: T:\Physics\Minot Group\Software\MFP-3D software\
    • If the latest version is not on the T drive, then follow the directions above under Software Updates

ARgyle is small piece of software for visualizing AFM data in 3D. The software can be found here: T:\Physics\Minot Group\Software\MFP-3D software\ARgyleL_install.exe

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