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Constant Excitation/Drive AFM


  • contact and non-contact AFM
  • Kelvin probe force microscopy (KPFM)
  • high-speed imaging
  • dynamic force spectroscopy


Performing lock-in amplification, cantilever frequency tracking, at multiple modes and on various harmonics simultaneously.


Integrated solution for high-speed imaging, including 2 phase-locked loops, 2 lock-in amplifiers, 2 frequency generators.


Application Diagram of an Atomic Force Microscope using the Zurich Instruments HF2PLL Phase-locked Loop

Measurements in atomic force microscopy are moving towards higher cantilever frequencies, multi-frequency, and multi-mode operation. Applications that previously performed on lock-in amplification below 1 MHz are moving into the regions of tens of MHz. Scientists demand scanning at ever increasing speeds and thus require instrumentation with small time constants, in order to capture very fast events.

In this AFM application, the cantilever is driven at resonance by a constant amplitude and variable frequency signal. Due to interactions between the cantilever and the sample, the signal at the detector varies both in amplitude and phase. In order to keep the cantilever in resonance, the phase shift is tracked with a high-speed phase-locked loop (PLL) and the drive signal is applied at 90 degrees shift compared to the sense signal. The frequency deviation of the PLL is a direct measure of the topography.

Key Features of the HF2PLL Phase-locked Loop for this Application

  • 2 phase-locked loops
  • 2 lock-in amplifiers
  • 2 signal generators
  • 1 µHz to 50 MHz frequency range
  • Up to 50 kHz PLL regulation bandwidth
  • 6 dual-phase demodulators
  • Integrated frequency response analyzer, FFT spectrum analyzer, and oscilloscope
  • Ultra-high stability oscillator option

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