A Decade of Discovery Enabled by PeakForce Tapping – Physics World


PeakForce Tapping has been widely adopted in a broad range of research fields, outpacing all other recently developed AFM modes in research impact and productivity.

Webinar Overview
In December 2009, a new mode for atomic force microscopy was introduced – PeakForce Tapping. Since then, it has been widely adopted in a broad range of research fields, outpacing all other recently developed AFM modes in research impact and productivity. PeakForce Tapping and its associated modes ScanAsyst, PeakForce QNM, PeakForce TUNA, PeakForce KPFM, and PeakForce SECM, have been cited in more than 4000 peer-reviewed publications over the last 10 years, with more than 30% of these publications in the top 10% of journals. In this webinar, we will select from this vast repository of publications to review the impact of PeakForce Tapping on today’s science. In particular, we will examine how the measurement of mechanical and electrical properties at the nanoscale have led to new discoveries and insights into material behavior.

PeakForce Tapping eliminates the need for contact mode in electrical modes, such as conductive and tunneling AFM (e.g. PeakForce TUNA), allowing high-resolution electrical property maps even on soft and fragile samples, and even in liquid (with PeakForce SECM). Battery work using the mode includes a recent Nature Communications article co-authored by Professor John Bannister Goodenough, the 2019 Chemistry Nobel laureate, where high-performance, dendrite-free metal lithium anodes were characterized. In energy research, PeakForce Tapping studies have resolved conductivity along individual lamellae in organic photovoltaics, revealed a nanocontact pinch-off that allows for improved solar fuel devices, and characterized the SEI layer in Li ion batteries in operando as well as ex situ.

Since PeakForce Tapping provides piconewton-level force control and sensitivity, it is ideal for mapping the nanomechanical properties of materials (enabling a mode called PeakForce QNM). Among the many firsts enabled by PeakForce QNM is work by Professor Konstantin Novoselov and Professor Andre Geim, the 2010 Physics Nobel laureates for the discovery of graphene, revealing a commensurate–incommensurate state transition in graphene on boron nitride, as shown in their Nature Physics article. In biology, it has enabled new studies of ligand receptor interactions, of individual microvilli on live cells, and of variations in the DNA double helix structure, to name just a few. In studies of polymers and composites, it has become the mode of choice for quantifying properties at interfaces and in interphases, including in adhesives, where other AFM modes struggle.

Bede Pittenger, Ph.D. vita:
Dr. Bede Pittenger is a senior staff development scientist in the AFM Unit of Bruker’s Nano Surfaces business. He received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Washington (Seattle, WA) in 2000 and has worked with scanning probe microscopes for 25 years, building systems, developing techniques, and studying properties of materials at the nanoscale. His work includes more than 30 publications and four patents on various techniques and applications of scanning probe microscopy. Dr. Pittenger’s interests span topics from interfacial melting of ice, to mechanobiology of cells and tissues, to the nanomechanics of polymers and composites.

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