Park System Introduces SmartScan Nanoscopic Tool for Automated Nanoscale Imaging

By CIOReview | Tuesday, August 11, 2015

SANTA CLARA, CA: Park Systems, a manufacturer of atomic force microscopy (AFM) systems introduces Park SmartScan operating software, an AFM nanoscopic tool to automatize the imaging process and provide digital nanoscale imaging.

Atomic force microscopy (AFM) is a technique for analyzing the surface of a rigid material to the level of the atom. AFM uses a mechanical probe to magnify surface features up to 100 Mn times and it produces 3-D images of the surface. 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 strengthen 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 raise read and write densities to between 40 gigabits and 300 gigabits per square inch.

The solution is only available on Park AFM. It allows users produce high quality nanoscale imaging through a single click of a mouse in auto mode to achieve reliable images five times the normal speed of a traditional AFM.

The Auto mode feature eliminates the rigorous operation that required a series of technically challenging steps to move the Z scanner down to the sample and approach the tip few nanometers above it without crashing, and calculating the optimum scan speed that was more art than science. With SmartScan Auto mode, Park AFM users will get the images they need for their research without the laborious manual set up that previously hindered the set up process.

SmartScan automatizes the functions of setting up and taking the image once done manually by the operator. This means the AFM makes decisions on how to set up the microscope imaging equipment for a user to create the optimum image.

Scripting and Macros of SmartScan provides a scripting tool to design advanced experiments requiring high data acquisition flexibility. The software comes with built-in macros that can be easily loaded and applied for repeating operations, such as moving the XY or the Z stage to a specific location, or resetting the operation. You can edit existing macros or create new ones as needed, and you can adjust settings in real-time using scripts to automate many parts of microscopy use.

With SmartScan mode, the AFM automatically does the frequency sweep and intelligently decides on the best amplitude/frequency setting. Then, it automatically uses this information to do FastApproach to get the Z-stage very close to the sample safely in the shortest duration. During the scan the mode utilizes Park’s AdaptiveScan to obtain the top quality image at much faster scan speed typically up to five times than conventional methods. This new scanning speed is said to greatly enhance the productivity in academic research, manufacturing defect review and analysis process.