The atomic force microscope (AFM), also known as a scanning force microscope (SFM), belongs to a family of microscopes termed scanning probe microscopes (SPMs). Unlike optical and other microscopes that utilize diffraction phenomenon primarily of the electromagnetic field, SPM instruments provide topographic images of surfaces by scanning them with a sharp probe. Having been invented in the early 1980s, SPM is a novel family of microscopes that started with the invention in 1982 by Binnig and Rohrer of the scanning tunneling microscope (STM) (Binnig 1982). This invention brought a revolution to the surface sciences due to its capability to visualize individual atoms on a crystal surface. The inventors were awarded a Nobel Prize in physics in 1986 for their fundamental discovery; interestingly, in that same year, one of the Nobel Prize winners, G. Binnig, published a paper entitled “Atomic Force Microscope” in which the AFM was described for the first time (Binnig 1966).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)