Asylum Research


 Free Asylum Research Webinars


Webinar Archives

"More than Just Roughness: AFM Techniques for Thin Film Analysis"

"Beyond Topography: New Advances in AFM Characterization of Polymers"

“Piezoresponse Force Microscopy: From Theory to Advanced Applications”
Two-part Webinar Series

"There’s No Other AFM Like Cypher: Recent Technological Advances"

“Atomic Force Microscopy Imaging and Nanomechanics with blueDrive™ Photothermal Excitation”

"Contact Resonance Tools for AFM Nanomechanics"

"Getting Started with AFM in Biology – It's Easier Than You Think"

"Introduction and Innovations in High Speed Quantitative Nanomechanical Imaging"

"Smaller and Quieter: Ultra-High Resolution AFM Imaging"

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"How to Choose the Right AFM Probe"

Register Now - Thursday, Sept. 8, 8am PDT

Presented by Dr. Ted Limpoco, Ph.D., Chemistry Applications Scientist,
Oxford Instruments Asylum Research

Probe selection is one of the most important considerations in atomic force microscopy. There is a wide breadth of AFM scanning modes currently available, as well as a number of imaging conditions to study your sample.


- Probe fundamentals (spring constant, tip radius, quality factor, resonant frequency)
- Overview of calibration
- Selecting probes for imaging in air or liquid
- Selecting probes for special modes and materials
- High resolution imaging Magnetic characterization
- Measurements that depend on contact resonance
- Specialized tips (diamond, carbon nanotubes, or high aspect ratio tips)
- Real-world examples for materials and biology applications

"More than Just Roughness:
AFM Techniques for Thin Film Analysis

Presented in conjunction with Materials Today Webinar SeriesCurrent map of multiferroic film

Presented by Dr. Donna Hurley, Lark Scientific and Dr. Kumar Virwani, Staff Member, IBM Research-Almaden. Moderated by Joe D'angelo, Materials Science Publisher

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Thin films and coatings are critical in everything from common consumer products to next-generation photovoltaics and data storage. Regardless of application, enhanced film performance is increasingly achieved by controlling and manipulating materials on micro- and nanometer length scales. Thus the need to measure film structure and properties on similar scales has grown correspondingly important.

In this webinar, we explore the powerful capabilities of today’s atomic force microscopes (AFMs) for characterizing thin films. For example, the AFM iswell known for its high-resolution topographic imaging capabilities. But recent improvements in speed, sensitivity, and ease of use make it more valuable than ever for quantifying 3D roughness and texture. We cover the basic concepts of surface imaging and analysis, and show illustrative examples.

Research and instrumentation advances have also produced a variety of AFM techniques to characterize electrical, electromechanical, and other functional response. We overview these techniques and discuss in detail an example of their application to memory access devices in the semiconductor industry. New capabilities for nanomechanical imaging are also briefly introduced. With examples that cover a wide range of systems, this webinar highlights the impact and versatility of advanced AFMs for thin-film research and development.

AFM Image above: Current map of multiferroic film


"Beyond Topography: New Advances in AFM Characterization of Polymers"

Presented in conjunction with the MRS OnDemand® Webinar Series

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This webinar was first presented live on May 28, 2015

Presented by Dr. Donna Hurley, Lark Scientific and
Dr. Anna Kepas-Suwara, Tun Abdul Razak Research Centre (TARRC)

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Whether investigating fundamental research principles or engineering a specific product, the atomic force microscope (AFM) is a key instrument for evaluating polymers and polymer blends. Its spatial resolution enables visualization of sub-micrometer and sub-nanometer morphology and structure. However, recent advances mean that AFMs can also measure the physical properties and functional behavior of polymers at small length scales. In addition to familiar topographic imaging, AFMs can probe molecular-level forces; map mechanical, thermal, and electrical properties; and assess solvent and thermal effects in near real time. This webinar provides an overview of the AFM’s powerful capabilities for polymers characterization and will cover:

• AFM methods for fast topographic imaging, even in liquids and at high temperatures
• Recent advances in viscoelastic measurements
• Nanomechanical mapping of rubber blends
• AFM techniques to probe electrical and functional behavior

About Your Lecturers

Donna Hurley is a consultant in AFM measurement techniques and their application to materials science. Until 2014 she was a senior scientist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. There, she led a team to develop and apply contact resonance AFM techniques for nanomechanical mapping of materials. She has a Ph.D. in Condensed Matter Physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Anna Kepas-Suwara joined the Advanced Material and Product Development Unit at TARRC as a Senior Materials Scientist in 2008. Since then, she has been involved in AFM and nanoindentation studies of rubber compounds. Her research interests involve visualization of materials’ structure under strain, relaxation phenomena in polymers, and nanomechanical mapping of polymers and polymer blends. She received her Ph.D. in Physical and Theoretical Chemistry from the University of Wroclaw (Poland) in 2007.

Epoxy bond line between two elastomers. Here, a thin epoxy layer joins two elastomeric materials with very similar elastic moduli. Though the epoxy is readily distinguished by its higher E', only the higher tan δ identifies the elastomer selected for its damping characteristics (marked with the triangle). Scan size is 25 μm.

This sample is a blend of natural rubber, polybutadiene rubber, and zinc oxide. The elastic response distinguishes all three materials, but the zinc oxide inclusions (circles) stand out more clearly by their much lower loss tangent. Scan size is 5 μm. Images courtesy of Dr. Anna Kepas-Suwara, Tun Abdul Razak Research Centre, UK.

Multilayer food packaging material (coffee bag) consisting of an aluminum barrier layer sandwiched between two polymer layers. Scan size is 15 μm.

"Piezoresponse Force Microscopy: From Theory to Advanced Applications

This two-part webinar weries was first presented May 4 and May 6, 2015

Electromechanical coupling is one of the fundamental mechanisms underlying the functionality of many materials. These include inorganic macro-molecular materials, such as piezo- and ferroelectrics, as well as many biological systems. Necessity for probing electromechanical functionalities has led to the development of Piezoresponse Force Microscopy (PFM), an ideal tool for local nanoscale imaging, spectroscopy, and manipulation of piezoelectric and ferroelectric materials.

Join us for this informative webinar series that will be presented in two parts. The first in the series is an “Introduction to PFM” while the second webinar will cover “Advanced PFM Techniques”. Presenters include PFM pioneers Dr. Sergei V. Kalinin, Director at the Institute for Functional Imaging of Materials and Theme Leader at the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Asylum Research President and co-founder, Dr. Roger Proksch.

Image: Single Frequency PFM scan of PZT made at 20Hz with a Pt coated AC240 Electrilever. The piezoresponse amplitude was overlaid (color) on top of the rendered topography. Domains are visible as regions of nearly constant amplitude, 7.5µm scan. Imaged with the Cypher AFM.

Part 1: “Introduction to PFM”

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Topics include:
• Basic theory of PFM
• Electromechanical coupling
• Limitations of conventional methodologies and advances in instrumentation to overcome these limitations including:
- Switching Spectroscopy PFM
- Dual AC™ Resonance Tracking (DART)
- Band Excitation (for measuring a more complete frequency response)

This webinar is ideal for researchers who are either new to PFM or who perhaps haven’t heard about the full spectrum of existing PFM capabilities.

Part 2: “Advanced PFM Techniques”

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Topics include:
• Band Excitation
• Multidimensional PFM spectroscopy
• Electrochemical Strain Microscopy (ESM)
• Challenge and progress in obtaining accurate d33 measurements

Advanced application examples will be presented
from the CNMS user program and Asylum Research.

Images: Pulsed laser deposited BFO/SRO/STO film. Piezoresponse force microscopy (PFM) phase image shows the local domain structure (top)
and the current map (bottom).

About Your Lecturers

Dr. Sergei V. Kalinin is the Director at the Institute for Functional Imaging of Materials and Theme Leader at the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Dr. Kalinin has published ~400 scientific papers, is a co-inventor on more than 10 patents, and has received numerous awards and honors for his research. He received his PhD in Materials Science in 2002 from the University of Pennsylvania. His research interests are focused on the scanning probe microscopy of electromechanical, ferroelectric, and electrochemical phenomena, and development of big data, deep data, and smart data approaches in imaging for design of new energy and information technology materials.

Dr. Roger Proksch is President and co-founder of Asylum Research, an Oxford Instruments company. Dr. Proksch has co-authored numerous papers, is a co-inventor on more than 20 AFM patents and has been an invited speaker on advanced AFM techniques at scientific conferences. He received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Minnesota.

All PFM registrants will receive a free PFM poster for their lab.







"There’s No Other AFM Like Cypher: Recent Technological Advances"

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Presented by Roger Proksch and Mario Viani

One of the most exciting things about the field of Atomic Force Microscopy is that it is still a vibrant, rapidly advancing technology. Please join Dr. Roger Proksch, Asylum Research President and Co-founder, and Dr. Mario Viani, Cypher Project Manager, for this informative, surprising, and enlightening review of recent technology advances on the Cypher AFM. Since its introduction in 2008, the Cypher has proven itself to be the world’s most capable and productive platform for AFM innovation. Scientists at Asylum Research have taken full advantage of that potential by:

  • Reinventing tapping mode with blueDrive photothermal excitation

  • Developing several techniques to measure storage and loss moduli

  • Introducing GetReal, the first automated cantilever calibration

  • Automating tapping mode image optimization with GetStarted

  • Proving that Cypher can routinely demonstrate extraordinary resolution

  • Enabling hassle-free environmental control – temperature, liquid perfusion, and chemical compatibility

For a long time now we have called the Cypher “the highest resolution fast scanning AFM.” But it has grown to be so much more, so unique in so many ways, that now we just say that “there’s no other AFM like Cypher.”

"AFM Imaging and Nanomechanics with New blueDrive™ Photothermal Excitation"

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Presented by Aleks Labuda

blueDrive is a new option available on the Asylum Research Cypher AFM that reinvents tapping mode imaging for remarkably simple, incredibly stable, and strikingly accurate operation.

“This webinar will be an excellent resource for AFM scientists wanting to learn more about the science behind this great new technique – it really makes everyday tapping AFM imaging easier and more quantitative,” said Dr. Aleks Labuda, Asylum Research - Research & Development Scientist. “For those that want to brush up on cantilever oscillation theory, this will also be an excellent educational opportunity to learn more and ask questions.”

The webinar will discuss the benefits and challenges of tapping mode, cantilever response and piezo drive theory, the advantages of using blueDrive for cantilever excitation, implementation, and real-world examples for materials and life science applications. The webinar is ideal for all current AFM users, both novice and advanced, and those wanting to learn the physics and science behind this powerful new technique.

Two one-hour webinar sessions will be held that includes a question and answer period after each.

About Your Lecturer

Dr. Aleks Labuda is a Research & Development Scientist with Asylum Research, an Oxford Instruments company, and the lead developer for blueDrive. Dr. Labuda has more than seven years of AFM experience. He received his PhD from McGill University in 2012. 

"Contact Resonance Tools for AFM Nanomechanics"

View recorded webinar

Donna Hurley, National Institute of Standards & Technology
Roger Proksch, Asylum Research, an Oxford Instruments Company

1Nanoscale information on mechanical properties is critical for many advanced materials and nanotechnology applications. Atomic Force Microscopy techniques for probing mechanical properties of samples in the nanometer range have emerged over the past decades. In contrast to the large number of techniques for softer samples, few techniques are capable of measuring moduli in the 1-200 GPa range. One technique, Contact Resonance (CR), has proven to work very well in this range. CR methods operate in contact mode with dynamic excitation near a cantilever resonant frequency, enabling sensitive measurements over a wide range of materials. Moreover, analysis of the CR peak frequency and quality factor yields accurate, quantitative data on elastic modulus and viscoelastic damping.

In this webinar, we’ll explain the basic concepts of measurements with different CR approaches including:

• Point spectroscopy
• Qualitative contrast imaging
• Quantitative mapping

We’ll also discuss practical implementation of contact resonance to a variety of samples and some of the pitfalls and artifacts you might encounter. Finally, we’ll present results on how CR methods have been used to improve understanding of systems such as:

• Composites
• Thin films
• Biomaterials
• Polymer blends

The nanomechanical characterization capabilities of CR methods, as you will come to learn, are an essential tool for the development, production, and in-situ monitoring of today’s and tomorrow’s materials.

This webinar was first present live on June 26, 2013 by Dr. Donna Hurley and Dr. Roger Proksch

Donna Hurley
Dr. Hurley leads the AFM Nanomechanics Project in the Material Measurement Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) in Boulder, CO. Her project team creates and applies AFM measurement technology for material-property characterization. For over 10 years, she has developed contact resonance AFM modes for quantitative nanomechanical imaging. She is author or co-author of numerous technical articles, including chapters in the recently released Scanning Probe Acoustic Techniques (Springer-Verlag, 2012) and the upcoming SPM in Industrial Applications: Nanomechanical Characterization (John Wiley & Sons, 2013). She has a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prior to NIST, she worked at GE Corporate Research (Schenectady, NY) and the University of Nottingham (UK).

Roger Proksch
Dr. Proksch is President and co-founder of Asylum Research, an Oxford Instruments company. He has over 20 years of AFM experience. He has co-authored many papers and is a co-inventor on numerous AFM patents. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota.

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"Getting Started with AFM in Biology –
It's Easier Than You Think

View recorded webinar on YouTube

You may be a biologist new to the AFM or an AFM expert starting to study biology. When you first start out, using an AFM for biological applications can seem overwhelming. Although there are challenges for successful AFM in biology, we’ll show you it’s easier than you think!

1Sample prep is a critical part of successful Bio-AFM. There are some basic principles that help insure success. However, life is complex and so are biological samples – with variations as large as the number of researchers. Thus, at the same time, you will need to be flexible – your samples may require a prep that is tweaked and tailored a bit to optimize your results. Working in liquid adds another challenge. In addition, the choice of measurement mode may not be obvious. Do I want to use tapping mode? Force curves? Contact Mode? Finally, there is a long list of commercial cantilevers available and choosing the best one can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. In this webinar we will present four case studies of a few typical biological samples:

1. Imaging DNA in liquid – including routine helix resolution
2. Imaging living cells in liquid
3. Measuring Young’s modulus of living cells
4. Unfolding forces in Titin

In each case we will discuss sample prep, lever and measurement mode choice and follow up with data interpretation and cautionary examples of experimental artifacts. The goal of this webinar is to give you the confidence to repeat these experiments yourself and then extending them to fit your own research.

1About Your Lecturer

This webinar was first presented live May 22, 2013 by Dr. Irene Revenko. Irene is one of the world's leading experts in Bio AFM. She is a staff scientist at Asylum Research and has over 19 years of AFM experience. She initiated the first bio-classes at Asylum Research in 2002 and since then has taken many students from their first AFM measurements through cutting edge results. 

Introduction and Innovations in High Speed Quantitative Nanomechanical Imaging

View recorded webinar on YouTube

This presentation will begin with a survey of the mechanical properties that can be investigated with the wide array of both old and new nanoscale property mapping techniques available to materials scientists. We will then introduce two new techniques for nanomechanical studies that allow unambiguous interpretation of material properties: AM-FM and Loss Tangent.  Amplitude-modulated (AM) atomic force microscopy, also known as tapping mode, is a proven, reliable and gentle imaging method with wide spread applications.  Previously, the contrast in tapping mode has been difficult to quantify.  The new AM-FM imaging technique combines the features and benefits of normal tapping mode with the quantitative, high sensitivity of Frequency Modulation (FM) mode. Loss Tangent imaging is another recently introduced quantitative technique that recasts the interpretation of phase imaging into one term that includes both the dissipated and stored energy of the tip sample interaction. These techniques allow high speed, low force imaging in tapping mode while providing quantitative Elasticity and Loss Tangent images.

"Smaller and Quieter: Ultra-High Resolution AFM Imaging"

View recorded webinar on YouTube

Miniaturization of cantilevers for Atomic Force Microscopy has increased their resonant frequencies and decreased their thermal noise, allowing faster, lower noise measurements. When used in the extremely low-noise Cypher AFM, these levers have enabled significant improvements in imaging resolution in air and especially in liquids. On crystals, individual atomic point defects can now be routinely resolved and this higher resolution also extends to biological samples. Examples shown include the movement of individual point defects in bacteriorhodopsin, atomic point defects in calcite, and resolution of the double-helix structure of DNA in solution.

This first webinar in our 2012 Webinar Series was presented by AFM pioneer, inventor and Asylum Research co-founder, Dr. Jason Cleveland.



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