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Spatial Dimensions in Atomic Force Microscopy: Instruments, Effects, and Measurements



Ronald G. Dixson, Ndubuisi G. Orji, Ichiko Misumi, Gaoliang Dai


Atomic force microscopes (AFMs) are commonly and broadly regarded as being capable of three dimensional imaging. However, conventional AFMs suffer from both significant functional constraints and imaging artifacts that render them less than fully three dimensional. To date a widely accepted consensus is still lacking with respect to characterizing the spatial dimensions of various AFM measurements. This paper is to propose a framework for describing the dimensional characteristics of AFM images, instruments, and measurements. Particular attention is given to instrumental and measurement effects that result in significant non-equivalence among the three axes in terms of both data characteristics and instrument performance. Fundamentally, our position is that no currently available AFM should be considered fully three dimensional in all relevant aspects.


AFM, spatial dimensions, 2D, 3D, CD-AFM


Dixson, R. , Orji, N. , Misumi, I. and Dai, G. (2018), Spatial Dimensions in Atomic Force Microscopy: Instruments, Effects, and Measurements, Ultramicroscopy, [online], (Accessed July 24, 2024)


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Created August 15, 2018, Updated November 10, 2018