PHYC40560 Advanced Atomic Force Microscopy for Bionanoscience

Academic Year 2022/2023

The atomic force microscope (AFM) is one of the family of scanning probe microscopes, and is widely used for biological and nanotechnological applications. This module covers the basic principles of AFM including: cantilever design; approach mechanisms; cantilever deflection detection techniques, modes of operation; quantitative measurements; force-distance curves; force-extension curves; and imaging.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

This module starts off with the underlying principles of atomic force microscopy both for static and dynamic measurements at the nanoscale. We will then cover each constituent component of the microscope including design criteria and calibration. This will be followed by exploring the range of applications of AFM in the life sciences and nanotechnology. The module will include practical hands on experience of atomic force microscopy via a series of practicals so that you are well-equipped to apply AFM during the project component of the MSc course if you wish to do so.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours






Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Supplementary reading materials and online content
Hands on lab work
Self-directed homework
Student presentations with peer feedback
Scientific writing
Data analysis 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Examination: 2 hour examination based on course content (lectures, continuous assessment, practicals, and reading materials). 2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Continuous Assessment: Homeworks, data analysis reports, practical write up, and presentation Varies over the Trimester n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Carry forward of passed components
Remediation Type Remediation Timing
In-Module Resit Prior to relevant Programme Exam Board
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment
• Peer review activities
• Self-assessment activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

You will receive feedback individually and as a group for continuous assessment activities. Peer feedback during practicals and presentations will also be utilised.

Fundamentals of Atomic Force Microscopy. Part I: Foundations by Ronald Reifenberger
Quantitative Data Processing in Scanning Probe Microscopy by Petr Klapetek