Improved control strategies for atomic force microscopes in intermittent contact mode

Marco Coraggio, Martin Homer, Oliver Payton, Mario Di Bernardo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
385 Downloads (Pure)


Atomic force microscopes have proved to be fundamental research tools in many situations and in a variety of environmental conditions, such as the study of biological samples. Among the possible modes of operation, intermittent contact mode is one that causes less wear to both the sample and the instrument; therefore, it is ideal when imaging soft samples. However, intermittent contact mode is not particularly fast when compared with other imaging strategies. In this paper, we introduce three enhanced control approaches, applied at both the dither and {z} -axis piezos that determine the motion of the microscope tip, to address the limitations of existing control schemes. Our proposed practical strategies are able to eliminate different image artifacts, automatically adapt scan speed to the sample being scanned, and predict its features in real time. The result is that both the image quality and the scan time are improved.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8059837
Pages (from-to)1673-1684
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Control Systems Technology
Issue number5
Early online date5 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2018

Structured keywords

  • Engineering Mathematics Research Group


  • Atomic force microscope
  • AFM
  • intermittent contact mode
  • IC-AFM
  • tapping mode
  • dynamic PID
  • hybrid PID
  • scan speed regulator
  • predictive controller


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