What is atomic force microscopy (AFM)? - Definition from WhatIs.com

Definition

atomic force microscopy (AFM)

Part of the Electronics glossary:

Atomic force microscopy (AFM) is a technique for analyzing the surface of a rigid material all the way down to the level of the atom . AFM uses a mechanical probe to magnify surface features up to 100,000,000 times, and it produces 3-D images of the surface.

The technique is derived from a related technology, called scanning tunneling microscopy (STM). The difference is that AFM does not require the sample to conduct electricity, whereas STM does. AFM also works in regular room temperatures, while STM requires special temperature and other conditions.

AFM is being used to understand materials problems in many areas, including data storage, telecommunications, biomedicine, chemistry, and aerospace. In data storage, it is helping researchers to "force" a disk to have a higher capacity. Today's magnetic storage devices typically have a capacity limit of between 20 and 50 gigabits (billions of bits) per square inch of storage medium. Researchers are looking into AFM to help raise read and write densities to between 40 gigabits and 300 gigabits per square inch. No one has yet commercialized AFM technology for this purpose, but IBM and others are actively pursuing it.

This was last updated in January 2011
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

Related Terms

Definitions

  • signature analysis

    - Signature analysis has two meanings. It can involve scrutinizing human signatures in order to detect forgeries and it can be a troubleshooting technique in which an AC signal with a specific wavef... (WhatIs.com)

  • bioprinting

    - Although bioprinting is still in the experimental stage and is currently used primarily in scientific study rather than applied science, the possibility of creating functional replacement tissues o... (WhatIs.com)

  • flash storage

    - Flash storage, based on flash memory, is used for data repositories, storage systems and consumer devices, such as USB drives, smartphones and solid-state drives. Flash-based storage is faster than... (WhatIs.com)

Glossaries

  • Electronics

    - Terms related to electronics, including definitions about electrical components and words and phrases about computers, laptops parts, digital cameras, televisions and home appliances.

  • Internet applications

    - This WhatIs.com glossary contains terms related to Internet applications, including definitions about Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery models and words and phrases about web sites, e-commerce ...

Ask a Question About atomic force microscopy (AFM)Powered by ITKnowledgeExchange.com

Get answers from your peers on your most technical challenges

Tech TalkComment

Share
Comments

    Results

    Contribute to the conversation

    All fields are required. Comments will appear at the bottom of the article.