Atomic Force Microscope – AFM: nGauge

Nanoscale imaging has never been easier

Collect nanoscale topography data on your benchtop in three clicks with the nGauge AFM


The Single-Chip Atomic Force Microscope

Integrated Circuit Scanning Probe Instruments (ICSPI) have developed the world’s first single-chip Atomic Force Microscope (AFM).

The X/Y/Z scanners, the sensors, and the sharp tip of an AFM have all been integrated into a single 1x1mm MEMS chip. Apart from a coarse approach mechanism, this chip is the entire AFM. Extremely precise MEMS actuators provide sub-angstrom positioning while integrated piezoresistive sensors provide precision low-noise measurements. Unlike a conventional AFM which has large external scanners, a complex laser alignment system, miniscule probes to exchange, and a big vibration isolation table, the entire nGauge AFM system uses a single-chip AFM and some small, low-cost hardware to achieve results comparable to machines that cost 100x more.

The nGauge is the world’s smallest, simplest and most affordable Atomic Force Microscope (AFM). has integrated all of the essential components of an AFM onto a single 1 mm2 chip. The result is the nGauge system—an AFM that has been volumetrically scaled down by a factor of one million.

ICSPI produces versatile instruments with superior vibration immunity, less drift, and an extremely low price point when compared to the state-of-the-art.

3d Nanoscale Images in 3 Clicks

  • Go from sample loading to 3d nanoscale data in two minutes
  • “One-click” automatic approach brings the tip to the sample in seconds
  • Collect topography, morphology, film thickness, roughness and phase data

Simple benchtop set-up and plug-and-play operation

  • Simply plug the nGauge AFM into a regular power outlet and into the USB port of your computer
  • Install an nGauge AFM chip and place a sample on the platform to start imaging
  • No vibration isolation table required. Read more about why the nGauge does not require vibration isolation on icspi blog

Key Features and Benefits

  • The nGauge’s innovative design makes it possible to get high-quality AFM images in less than five minutes
  • The nGauge costs an order-of-magnitude less than traditional AFMs, with no compromise in quality
  • The small size of the nGauge AFM rejects building vibrations, so our system images robustly on any table top—no vibration isolation is required
  • Thermal proximity sensors allow for a completely automated approach in seconds
  • Electrothermal MEMS actuators precisely move the cantilever tip with low drift, enabling long-term imaging experiments
  • The tip is made of a hard, durable material that can produce images consistently without noticeable tip
    wear for over 700 scans
  • Intuitive, cross-platform software designed with the most novice user in mind, with advanced features readily    accessible.

Ultra-durable probes capable of hundreds of scans

  • nGauge AFM probes are durable and maximize lifetime: each probe is capable of hundreds of scans without wear
  • Ultra-low tapping force means the tip is wear-resistant and your samples are not damaged