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AFM Tools for Piezoelectrics and Ferroelectrics Research

piezoresponse force microscopy image taken with an Asylum Research scanning probe microscope

Piezoresponse force microscopy (PFM) is an atomic force microscopy technique that can be used to characterize the electromechanical coupling underlying the functionality of many material systems, including piezoelectrics, ferroelectrics, and certain biological materials. An electrical stimulus is applied locally to the sample through the AFM tip while the mechanical response, on the order of ~1-100 pm/V, is simultaneously measured.  This technique is relevant to both basic materials science research and a rich field of applied technologies. Asylum Research is recognized as the world leader in commercial PFM technology by providing crosstalk-free, high sensitivity PFM measurements using a variety of advanced and proprietary measurement techniques and capabilities.

Now with the Interferometric Displacement Sensor (IDS) Option for the Cypher AFM, d33 measurements are more reproducible and artifact-free.  Interferometric detection directly measures cantilever deflection instead of cantilever angle that is utilized in conventional optical beam detection (OBD). IDS eliminates the artifacts due to electrostatic coupling. Learn how IDS improves PFM measurements by downloading the white paper below.

Ask an AFM expert for more information
  • Image the sample's electromechanical response at a fixed frequency or use Dual AC Resonance Tracking (DART) to achieve higher sensitivity by using resonance enhancement.
  • High tip bias voltages possible for enhanced sensitivity - up to  ±150 V on Cypher™ and MFP‑3D Infinity™ and up to ±220 V on MFP‑3D Origin™ and Origin+.
  • Switching spectroscopy to generate piezoresponse amplitude "butterfly" loops and phase "hysteresis" loops.  
  • Built-in lithography tools to write domains and complex patterns. Tip bias can be varied continuously using the grayscale of an imported bitmap.  
  • Vector PFM to reconstruct real space polarization orientation.
  • Compatible with various environmental stages and accessories to allow for heating and cooling, or to subject the sample to humidity, gas perfusion, or applied magnetic fields.

Piezoelectric Materials

  • Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS)
  • Sensors and actuators
  • Energy storage and harvesting
  • RF filters and switches
  • Sonar
  • Balance and frequency standards
  • Giant k dielectrics
  • Capacitors

Ferroelectric Materials

  • Domain engineering
  • Non-volatile memory
  • Data storage devices
  • Domain energetics and dynamics

Fundamental Materials Science

  • Domains
  • Phase transitions and critical phenomena
  • Size effects
  • Nucleation dynamics
  • Multiferroics
  • Ferroelectric polymers
  • Liquid crystals
  • Composites
  • Relaxor ferroelectrics


  • Cardiac
  • Auditory
  • Cell signaling
  • Structural electromechanics
  • Biosensors

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