AFM-IR technology for nanoscale FTIR spectroscopy and imaging



AFM-IR has for the first time united morphology and chemistry, providing unambiguous material identification. AFM-IR spectroscopy reveals chemical composition of crucial nanostructures across a diverse range of applications, including nanofibers, sub-cellular composition, and polymer blend interfaces.

  • Expands nanoscale IR to a broad range of real world samples

  • New resonance enhanced mode enables nanoscale IR on <20nm films

  • Rich, interpretable IR spectra

  • Powerful, full featured AFM

  • Multifunctional measurements including integrated thermal and mechanical property mapping

  • Designed and built for productivity and rapid time-to-results

AFM-IR: How it works


AFM-IR (right) works by illuminating a sample with pulses of infrared radiation and using the tip of an AFM to detect the absorbed radiation with nanoscale spatial resolution. Specifically, IR light absorbed by the sample is converted to heat, causing a rapid thermal expansion pulse under the AFM tip, in turn exciting resonant oscillation of the AFM cantilever. The amplitude of the cantilever oscillation is directly proportional to the sample absorption coefficient. AFM-IR absorption spectra are created by measuring the cantilever oscillation amplitude as a function of the wavelength of the incident radiation. Each absorption peak corresponds to excitation of a specific molecular resonance and the pattern of peaks, i.e. the absorption spectrum act as a unique chemical fingerprint of a nanoscale region of the sample.






AFM-IR schematic




Rich, interpretable FTIR spectra


AFM-IR overcomes the limitations of the vast number of existing AFM-based imaging modes that provide ambiguous material contrast. Instead, AFM-IR provides true chemical identification. AFM-IR absorption spectra are direct measurements of sample absorption, independent of other complex optical properties of the tip and sample. As such, AFM-IR spectra correlate very well to conventional bulk IR spectra (right). Peak positions are highly accurate, enabling detailed analysis of band shapes, subtle peak shifts, secondary structure, orientation effects, etc. AFM-IR spectra are easily exported to third party chemical libraries (e.g., Bio-RAD’s KnowItAll®) for rapid analysis and identification of unknown chemical components.


Atomic force MicroscopeAFM-IR provides nanometer scale absorption spectra
with good correlation to bulk FTIR measurements.



AFM-IR Applications


Protein secondary structure - single fiber

Amide I absorption of single collagen fiber. Results courtesy of EPFL, Switzerland.

Polymer interface chemistry


AFM-IR spectra (left) and morphology (right) of a polymer blend across a rubber/nylon interface.

Polymer degradation/failure analysis


AFM-IR absorption spectra reveal evidence of localized nanoscale oxidation at failure point in polyurethane tubing.



AFM-IR absorption spectra and imaging of SiO2 nano particles in polypropylene. Sample courtesy of IPF Dresden.

Multilayer films


AFM-IR chemically distinguishes polyamide vs. polyethylene film components.



AFM-IR spectra reveal mineral/protein concentration and protein secondary structures in bone.



AFM-IR reveals variation in crystalline and amorphous structure among and within single nanofibers. Results courtesy of University of Delaware

Self-assembled monolayers


AFM imaging, AFM-IR imaging, and resonance enhanced AFM-IR spectroscopy of a monolayer island film of a PEG methyl ether thiol on gold.


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