Band excitation scanning probe microscopy innovation earns award for ORNL, Asylum | The American Ceramic Society

Band excitation scanning probe microscopy innovation earns award for ORNL, Asylum

A 15 X 15 micron BE acoustic force microscopy scan of a polymer blend from which the Q-factor has been extracted.
Contrast can be seen between the different constituent materials. The graph, right, indicates the average transfer
functions over the regions indicated by blue and red dots on the map.

The Microscopy Society of America’s magazine, Microscopy Today, announced it has given its 2010 Innovation Award to the combined efforts of Oak Ridge National Lab and Asylum Research for their new “band excitation” scanning force microscopy innovation that can make data measurement 100 times faster.

According to information from ORNL, the BE method is based on the excitation and detection of a signal having a finite amplitude over a selected region in the Fourier domain, allowing simultaneous determination of amplitude, resonance and Q-factor.The lab says BE SPM offers high-speed acquisition of the local spectral response in applications that require electromechanical and mechanical imaging and force-distance spectroscopy.

In other words, BE SPM allows researchers to characterize a sample’s electrical, magnetic, mechanical energy conversion and dissipation properties at much faster imaging rates.

BE instruments achieve this by exciting and detecting the tip dynamics at many frequencies simultaneously, using a synthesized digital signal that spans a continuous band of frequencies and monitors the response within the same frequency band. ORNL and Asylum officials say BE allows ~100x improvement in data acquisition speed (compared to currently available commercial technologies) without decreasing the signal to noise ratio.

They also say that BE will be an important technology in understanding energy dissipation in a diverse range of technologies, including electronics, information technology, energy storage and transport, and more.

Asylum and ORNL have partnered on several spectroscopy innovations, including Piezo Force Module and Switching Spectroscopy PFM.

“We believe Band Excitation will be the harbinger of a new family of SPMs,” predicts Sergei Kalinin, coinventor and a specialist in nanoscale functional imaging at the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences and the at ORNL. “This method provides an alternative to well-known lock-in-based detection methods, and can revolutionize this field by providing the potential for quantitative and artifact-free dissipation imaging. We are looking forward to developing new applications for BE through our partnership with Asylum Researchs,” says Kalinin, an ACerS member.

Stephen Jesse, another co-inventor from the CNMS, says the technology points in an important direction forward. “The speed and flexibility of the latest generation of Asylum SPM controllers permit the fine tuning and fast acquisition of data streams needed to take us from mere imaging to an arena of information-rich insight into cantilever-surface interactions and material functionality,” he says.

Last week, MSA also gave Kalinin its Burton Medal, an award that honors distinguished contributions to the fields of microscopy or microanalysis of a scientist less than 40 years of age.