Today’s entry will be dedicated to Adrian Chlanda’s favorite research technique – atomic force microscopy (AFM), and its potential applications in the study of graphene materials and more.

Due to the working principle of AFM (physical contact of the probe tip with the investigated surface), it is possible not only to visualize the surface but also to determine a series of additional parameters correlated with the material’s surface, including three-dimensional imaging of surface morphology, roughness estimation, imaging of internal material structure, determination of surface stiffness, adhesion forces between the tip and the surface, as well as investigation of electrical or magnetic properties of tested material. An additional advantage is the ability to study materials (including non-conductive ones) both in air and in liquids. Temperature-dependent studies are also an interesting aspect to study using this particular scientific apparatus.

In the Flake Graphene Research Group at Łukasiewicz – Institute of Microelectronics and Photonics, we particularly utilize this technique for quality control of our G-Flake® materials. It is possible to determine, among other things, lateral dimensions and flake heights. AFM can also be used to detect post-production contaminants in graphene oxide (GO) and reduced graphene oxide (RGO) flakes, or to visualize nanoparticles modifying the properties of graphene materials.

Additionally, it is possible to determine the work function, which is particularly significant in the case of graphene materials used in electronics. Moreover, AFM can help to determine the influence of graphene materials on the physical and mechanical properties of composite surfaces. One can even test the impact of nanomaterials on the stiffness of living cells!

Here you can find some of articles describing utilization of AFM technique for the examination of graphene materials and more:

A flexible immunosensor based on the electrochemically rGO with Au SAM using half-antibody for collagen type I sensing
Graphene oxide nanofilm to functionalize bioinert high strength ceramics  
The influence of carbon-encapsulated iron nanoparticles on elastic modulus of living human mesenchymal stem cells examined by atomic force microscopy
Internal nanocrystalline structure and stiffness alterations of electrospun polycaprolactone-based mats after six months of in vitro degradation. An atomic force microscopy assay  
Fabrication, multi-scale characterization and in-vitro evaluation of porous hybrid bioactive glass polymer-coated scaffolds for bone tissue engineering

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