Central Facilities

NCMN Central Facility for
Scanning Probe Microscopy

NCMN Central Facility for Scanning Probe Microscopy (SPM) provides state-of-the-art instrument for nanometer-scale characterization of materials surface and related physical properties by using Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), Magnetic Force Microscopy (MFM), Electrostatic Force Microscopy (EFM), Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM), Piezoresponse Microscopy (PFM),  Surface Potential Microscopy (PeakForce KPFM), PeakForce Tunneling AFM (PF-TUNA) and Quantitative Nanomechanical Property Mapping (PF-QNM), etc.

SPM facility have an advantage in their ability to operate in ambient air, vacuum, and in liquids. It can provide three-dimensional high contrast topographic images with sub-nanometer resolution in air routinely, including line width, grain size, pitch and depth, roughness measurements, sectioning of surfaces, power spectral density, particle analysis, surface defects, and pattern recognition, etc. Depending on the interaction of scanning probe and sample surface, a variety of surface physical properties can be measured in addition to surface morphology, such as electrical, magnetic, and nanomechanical properties. 

The Central Facilities are university recharge centers that are open to all UNL researchers as well as external users with well-defined user fees. The SPM central facility is located in the basement of Jorgensen Hall (Room 013) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The SPM Specialist, Dr. Lanping Yue (see Contact Info) is in charge of the SPM central facility to maintain equipment, teach and assist users in the use of this equipment, analysis techniques and data interpretation and presentation. Research collaborations are welcome from all university research groups as well as companies in Nebraska and elsewhere.

The Facility is Equipped with:

1. Brucker Dimension ICON SPM

Bruker Dimension Icon® Atomic Force Microscope brings new levels of performance, functionality, and AFM accessibility to NCMN researchers. The system is equipped with proprietary ScanAsyst® automatic image optimization technology, which enables easier, faster, and more consistent results. 

The following unique new capabilities will broaden our current SPM applications (Contact Mode AFM, TappingMode AFM, AFM in fluid, Phase imaging, LFM, MFM, EFM, PFM, STM):

Material Mapping
Icon supports PeakForce QNM® Imaging Mode, enabling researchers to map and distinguish quantitatively between nanomechanical properties while simultaneously imaging sample topography at high resolution. This technology operates over an extremely wide range (1MPa to 50GPA for modulus and 10pN to 10μn for adhesion) to characterize a large variety of sample types.

Electrical Characterization
Carry out electrical characterization at the nanoscale with greater sensitivity and dynamic range using exclusive PeakForce TUNA & PeakForce KPFM modules. Key capabilities:

• Conductivity mapping on the most delicate sample: charges, charge distribution, diffusions, surface potential distribution, etc;
• Correlated quantitative nanomechanical properties (modulus & adhesion);
•Information for rational nanostructure optimization --ID components & their distribution.


Perform manipulation, indentation, and lithography at the nanometer and molecular scales. The Icon’s XYZ closed-loop scanner provides precise probe positioning with no piezo creep and extremely low noise for the best positioning of any available nanomanipulation system.

Heating and Cooling
Execute temperature control and thermal analysis on samples from –35°C to 250°C while scanning in various AFM modes. 

2. EnviroScope Atomic Force Microscope (ESCOPE)


The Digital Instruments EnviroScope combines AFM imaging with environmental controls and hermetically sealed sample chamber to perform Contact Mode and TappingMode atomic force microscopy in air, vacuum, or a purged gas, as well as a heating environment. With advanced environmental capabilities, users can observe sample reactions to a variety of complex environmental conditions while scanning. 

3. Dimension 3100 SPM system

The Digital Instruments Nanoscope IIIa Dimension 3100 SPM system can provide high resolution, 3D images for a large variety of materials, such as nanoparticles, polymers, DNA, semiconductor thin films, magnetic media, optics and other advanced nanostructures.

Dimension 3100 SPM system

MFM image mode can scan samples in external magnetic fields, which is useful for in-situ imaging magnetic domain structures and magnetic switch behavior. The available magnetic fields using permanent magnets can be applied perpendicular (± 0.25 T) and/or parallel (± 0.35 T) to the sample surface. 


Nebraska Center for Materials and Nanoscience

spm Dr. Lanping Yue

Dr. Lanping Yue, Facility Specialist 


NCMN Facilities Sign-In Calendar

Check with the Specialist for log-in access 


Lanping Yue, Facility Specialist

855 N. 16th Street
 Jorgensen Hall, Room 013
Lincoln, NE 68588-0298

phone: (402) 472-2742
fax: (402) 472-6148

Li Tan
 , Faculty Adviser

Nebraska Hall, Room W334
Lincoln, NE 68588-0526

phone: (402) 472-4018  ltan4@unl.edu