AFM and Scanning Probe Microscopies
Formerly known as Scanning Probe Microscopy (SPM), the section was established in 2012 to give recognition to a well-defined community of microscopists worldwide, and provide a support network for a number of world-leading companies in the sector. The committee are particularly keen to hear from and engage with PhD students.
Other science section
Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) & Scanning Probe Microscopy (SPM) describes a family of techniques, distinct from the Light and Electron Microscopies in that radiation is not used as a probe to interrogate the surface. Instead a physical probe is positioned within a few nanometres of the surface, or in contact with the surface, and the probe is raster-scanned across the surface. A physical property of the surface, to which the probe is sensitive, is used as a control parameter to yield a true 3-dimensional image of the surface. An SPM “image” can contain information from a wide range of forces and interactions and, so SPM can provide quantitative maps of e.g. mechanical, electrical, magnetic, thermal, chemical, optical and electronic properties simultaneously with topography, and both to nanometre, atomic and even subatomic resolution in some conditions. With the development of high-speed SPM these maps can be acquired to time resolutions up to seconds and milliseconds. The probe is often used to obtain local spectroscopic information about the behaviour of a particular property as a parameter such as distance or voltage is ramped. Two important examples of SPM spectroscopy are: Force Spectroscopy, which quantifies the forces felt by the probe as a function of distance with the sample, and Scanning tunneling spectroscopy (STS), an extension of scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM), is used to provide information about the density of electrons in a sample as a function of their energy. AFM is also often used as a nanoindenter to obtain nanometre information about the mechanical properties of the sample as it is mechanically deformed.
The Scanning Probe Microscopy Section of the RMS has several distinguishing features:
- We represent a diverse multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary community of researchers and practitioners
- We are developing a number of training short-courses as we look to build and support the community
- We are opening a dialogue with the research councils on mutual training opportunities
Download the AFM and Scanning Probe Microscopies Section Handbook
Prof Sonia Contera
SPM Section Chair
University of Oxford
Sonia Contera is an Associate Professor in Biological Physics at the University of Oxford. She works at the interface of nanomaterials, physics and biology and she is an expert in atomic force microscopy. Currently she collaborates with engineers, biologists, chemists and mathematicians in various multidisciplinary projects that range from understanding the mechanical aspects to plant growth to developing materials for tissue engineering, and developing methods for measuring mechanoelectrical coupling in neurons. She has a special interest in the role of mechanics in linking molecular function with cellular biology and in learning how this knowledge can be used for creating better materials with applications in healthcare. Sonia often writes pieces for the general press , e.g. in WIRED magazine or the Huffington Post, and also works with international organisations such as the World Economic Forum. She has just finished a book entitled "Transmateria: Nanotechnology and the future of biology and Medicine" and she is preparing a Soapbox Science "performance" with artist Ellen McAleavey for the Oxford Arts Festival.
Prof Oleg Kolosov
SPM Section Vice-Chair
Oleg explores nanometre length and nanosecond time scale physical phenomena in materials and devices. He published 150 refereed papers, was awarded 28 patents, co-written three book chapters and a monograph, and is a PI on EPSRC and EU grants. His inventions include Ultrasonic and Heterodyne Force Microscopies, Immersion Scanning Thermal Microscopy and nano‐manipulation of ferroelectric domains. He was a Fellow of Science and Technology Agency of Japan, Advanced EPSRC Fellow at Oxford University, UK, a Director of Innovation at Symyx Technologies, USA. Oleg is a Director of Lancaster Materials Analysis he founded in 2016 and served as an interim director establishing Lancaster Materials Science Institute of which he is currently a Deputy Director. He is a recipient of Metrology for World Class Manufacturing, two Paul Instrument Fund Awards and his students were among top UK Physics students in 2010 and 2012.
Dr Stephanie Allen
University of Nottingham
Dr Boumedienne Boudjelida
Boume is the UK, Benelux and Scandinavia Sales Manager for Bruker Nano Surfaces, dealing with Atomic Force Microscopy, Stylus and Optical Metrology and Tribology and Mechanical Testing businesses. Boume completed his PhD at Sheffield Hallam University working on metal/GaN interfaces characterisation using XPS and AFM/STM for LED/High power applications (2006). He subsequently joined The Microelectronics and Nanostructures Group at the University of Manchester (School of EEE) as a post-doctorate working on InGaAs/InAlAs HEMT and LNA structures for super-low noise amplifier applications, as part of the Square Kilometre Array Telescope project (SKA). He then joined Veeco Metrology initially developing the AFM probes business in EMEA in 2009, and took over the Sales for Scandinavia, then UK before managing the UK, Benelux and Scandinavia business for Bruker Nano. Veeco Metrology was acquired by Bruker in 2010.
Dr Charles Clifford
National Physical Laboratory
Charles is a senior research scientist in the Surface and Nano-Analysis group at the National Physical Laboratory. Charles's research has a focus on developing and understanding scanning probe microscopy techniques in order to give quantitative information on a surface at the nanoscale beyond 'pretty pictures'. He studies a wide range of materials in collaboration with industry and academia using AFM and other surface analytical techniques. He obtained a MSci in Chemistry and Molecular Physics at the University of Nottingham and his PhD from the University of Sheffield supervised by Prof Graham Leggett. Charles is the chair of the British standards institute panel on characterisation and measurement techniques in nanotechnologies, a mirror committee for ISO TC229/JWG2 and the principle UK expert for the international standardisation committee on scanning probe microscopy (ISO TC/201/SC9).
Dr Lorna Dougan
University of Leeds
Lorna is an Associate Professor in the Molecular and Nanoscale Physics group in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Leeds. Before joining in 2009, Lorna held a postdoctoral researcher position in the Biological Sciences department at Columbia University in New York. Lorna is a physicist by training (MPhys and PhD) and during this time held a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship. More recently she was awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry MacroGroup UK Young Researchers Medal in 2013 and the Medical Research Council and Royal Society Suffrage Science Award in 2015. Lorna's research interests span biophysics and soft matter physics.
Dr Laura Fumagalli
SPM Representative infocus Editorial Board
University of Manchester
Laura Fumagalli graduated in electronic engineering in 2002 and obtained her PhD in 2006 at Polytechnic University of Milan (Italy) with a doctoral thesis on low-noise amplifiers. She then joined the Electronic Department of the University of Barcelona and the Institute of Bioengineering of Catalonia (Spain), where she developed novel instrumentation and techniques for scanning probe microscopy to probe electrical properties at the nanoscale, in particular capacitance and dielectric properties of nano-materials and biomolecules. From 2015, she is lecturer in Condensed Matter Physics at the School of Physics and Astronomy of the University of Manchester (UK) and researcher of the National Graphene Institute - University of Manchester.
Prof Jamie Hobbs
University of Sheffield
Prof Jamie Hobbs received a BSc in Physics from the University of Bristol in 1991, followed by a PhD in polymer physics, also from Bristol. Following work with Peter Barham and Andrew Keller on polymer crystallization, he worked with Mervyn Miles using and developing AFM for studying polymers. He pioneered methods for following polymer crystallization in real time, and then co-developed a new high speed scanning (videoAFM) approach which led to the launch of a spin-out company, Infinitesima Ltd. On moving to Sheffield in 2004 he started to collaborate widely with biologists, as well as further developing AFM approaches for high speed and high resolution imaging. His work is now focused on the development and application of AFM for imaging living systems, in particular bacteria, plants and cancer.
Dr Chris Mulcahy
Corporate Advisory Board Vice-Chair
Asylum Research, an Oxford Instruments Company
Chris is the UK Sales Manager for Asylum Research, an Oxford Instruments Company. Asylum Research designs and manufactures high-value, research-grade Atomic Force Microscopes (AFM). Chris received his BSc (1994) and PhD (1998) from Imperial College London with his thesis focussing on the growth and characterisation of III-V semiconductor materials using ultra-high vacuum analytical techniques under the supervision of Professor Tim Jones.
Dr Steven Schofield
University College London
Steven is an Associate Professor in Condensed Matter Physics at University College London. His research is focused on understanding and controlling the fundamental quantum properties of matter at the atomic scale for potential applications in classical and quantum information processing. His research group uses atomic-scale fabrication and cryogenic-temperature, ultrahigh-vacuum scanning tunnelling microscopy and spectroscopy to create and investigate nanostructures in semiconductor and two-dimensional materials. Often these measurements are made in conjunction with complementary techniques including momentum-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy and quantum simulation. Steven is a former chair of the Nanoscale Physics and Technology group of the Institute of Physics (2012-2017), and is the current Nanometer Structures Division representative for the UK to the International Union for Vacuum Science Techniques and Applications (IUVSTA).
Dr James Vicary
Nu Nano Ltd
James is Managing Director of Nu Nano Ltd, a UK start-up specialising in the design and manufacture of AFM probes. He completed his PhD at the University of Bristol under the supervision of Prof. Mervyn Miles, exploring the use of high-speed atomic force microscopy for nanofabrication. During his subsequent postdoctoral research he moved into microfabrication, where he developed novel ultra-soft silicon nitride cantilevers for vertical probe microscopy. This enabled colleagues to explore force regimes up to 1000 times smaller than can be achieved with conventional AFM. This microfabrication experience led James to found NuNano in order to bring these novel probes to the wider scientific community and develop new manufacturing standards for conventional AFM probes.
Dr Kislon Voitchovsky
University of Durham
Kislon is an Associate Professor in Physics at Durham University. His research focus on the nanoscale properties of materials and interfaces at the frontier between physics, biology, chemistry and materials science. His work is largely based on atomic force microscopy, used to investigates the nanoscale ordering and dynamics of liquids near solids. He is particularly interested in emergent phenomena, where unpredicted mesoscale effects arise due to the unusual properties of interfaces. Kislon obtained his Masters in femtosecond spectroscopy of solvation effects from the University of Lausanne (now EPFL), followed by a PhD in nanoscale membrane biophysics from the University of Oxford. He went to do do research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and subsequently at EPFL (Switzerland) where he worked on AFM approaches to quantify the nanoscale properties and the liquid at the interface with various solids, including soft and bio-like systems. Since October 2013 he joined Durham University as a academic member of staff.
Dr David Morgan
David is the Technical Sales Manager at Nanosurf’s UK office, which covers the UK, Ireland and Scandinavia. Nanosurf manufacturers next level Scanning Probe Microscopes (SPM) for research, quality control and educational purposes. David has an MChem degree in Chemistry from the University of Oxford and worked there on research projects inducing crystal formation inside carbon nanotubes, electrical and electrochemical measurements of nanoscale polymer junctions and their use in the synthesis of glucose biosensors. David then spent 11 years at Windsor Scientific, initially as a development scientist working on their combined AFM/SECM system and eventually being responsible for sales and technical support of their range of surface science instruments including AFM systems, 3D optical profilers and nanoindenters. He joined Nanosurf in 2018 as they expand their worldwide presence.
Dr Minkyung Kang
AFM & SPM Section Early Career Representative
Dr Minkyung Kang is a Leverhulme early career research fellow in Department of Chemistry at the University of Warwick. She received BSc and MSc in Chemistry at Ewha Womans University (South Korea) and completed her PhD in Warwick Electrochemistry and Interfaces Group at the University of Warwick in 2017. She built strong background in electrochemistry and developed her expertise in state-of-the-art instrumentation and novel experimental approaches for scanning electrochemical probe microscopy (SEPM) at Warwick. On her current projects, she has a special interest in SEPM applications for fundamental studies of the (nano)interfaces involved in electrocatalysis.
The 2019 Annual General Meeting of the RMS Scanning Probe Microscopy Section took place on Tuesday 2 July during mmc2019.
Download the 2019 Scanning Probe Microscopy Section AGM Minutes