Scanning Probe Microscopy and Surface Forces

A scanning probe microscope (SPM) is a device that detects the forces between a sample surface and a nanoscale tip (alternatively a colloidal particle or a droplet) with a sensitivity in the order of some 10 pN. These forces originate from the interaction of tip apex with the sample surface, e.g. via electrostatic and van-der-Waals forces. By raster-scanning the topography of the sample can be obtained down to molecular or atomic scales. Depending on the type of interactions forces employed, local electrical, magnetic or spectroscopic nanoscale properties can be measured as well. We make use of the extreme versatility of SFM methods to characterize various surface properties.



In particular, we work on the following topics:


  • Colloidal probe force spectroscopy: Michael Kappl


  • Drop adhesion forces: Rüdiger Berger, Michael Kappl, Doris Vollmer, Hans-Jürgen Butt

Nan Gao, Florian Geyer, Dominik W. Pilat, Sanghyuk Wooh, Doris Vollmer, Hans-Jürgen Butt, and Rüdiger Berger, "How drops start sliding over solid surfaces," Nature Physics 14, 191-196 (2018).

Hinduja, C., A. Laroche, S. Shumaly, Y. Wang, D. Vollmer, H.-J. Butt & R. Berger, Scanning drop adhesion force microscopy, Langmuir, 38, 14635−14643 (2022)

Alexandre Laroche, Abhinav Naga, Chirag Hinduja, Azadeh Aghili Sharifi, Alexander Saal, Hyeonjin Kim, Nan Gao, Sanghyuk Wooh, Hans-Jürgen Butt, Rüdiger Berger, Doris Vollmer: Tuning static drop friction, Droplet 2:e42. (2023).

  • Bioadhesion: Michael Kappl


  • Mechanical properties on nano- and micrometer length scales: Michael Kappl


  • Nanoscale characterization of energy materials and devices (perovskite solar cells, batteries, etc.): Rüdiger Berger, Stefan Weber

Chao Zhu, Till Fuchs, Stefan A.L. Weber, Felix. H. Richter, Gunnar Glasser, Franjo Weber, Hans-Jürgen Butt, Jürgen Janek, Rüdiger Berger: Understanding the evolution of lithium dendrites at Li6.25Al0.25La3Zr2O12 grain boundaries via operando microscopy techniques, Nature Communications 14, 1300 (2023).

Jongkuk Ko, Youngkeol Kim, Jin Soo Kang, Rüdiger Berger, Hyunsik Yoon, and Kookheon Char: Enhanced Vertical Charge Transport of Homo- and Blended Semiconducting Polymers by Nanoconfinement, Advanced Materials 1908087 (2020).

  • High-resolution force microscopy at solid-liquid interfaces: Stefan Weber


  • Nanoscale infrared spectroscopy (NanoIR): Rüdiger Berger

C. Sprau, J. Kattenbusch, Y. Li, E. Müller, D. Gerthsen, R. Berger, J. J. Michels, A. Colsmann: Revisiting Solvent Additives for the Fabrication of Polymer: Fullerene Solar Cells: Exploring a Series of Benzaldehydes, Solar Rapid Research Letters 5, 2100238 (2021).

  • Development of Kelvin probe-based high-resolution electrostatic force microscopy methods: Stefan Weber

Weber, S.A.L; Hermes, I.M.; Turren Cruz, S.H.; Gort, C.; Bergmann, V.W.; Gilson, L; Hagfeldt, A.; Grätzel, M; Tress, W; and Berger, R. How the Formation of Interfacial Charge Causes Hysteresis in Perovskite Solar Cells Energy Environmental Science, 11, 2404 (2018).

Axt, A; Hermes, I.M.; Bergmann, V.W.; Tausendpfund, N. and Weber, S.A.L., Know your full potential: Quantitative Kelvin probe force microscopy on nanoscale electrical devices, Beistein J. Nanotech., 9, 1809 (2018).

  • SPM core facilty: Rüdiger Berger

Hao Lu, Luca Bellucci, Shumei Sun, Daizong Qi, Marta Rosa, Rüdiger Berger, Stefano Corni, and Mischa Bonn: Acidic pH Promotes Refolding and Macroscopic Assembly of Amyloid Peptides at the Air-Water Interface, J. Phys. Chem. Lett., 13, 29, 6674–6679 (2022).


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