The atomic force microscope (AFM) is a powerful tool for characterizing polymer materials. It provides nanoscale information on a wide range of physical properties and behaviour in addition to imaging morphology. Whether investigating fundamental principles of polymer science or engineering a specific polymer solution (Figure 2), the AFM is a key instrument for evaluating polymers at small length scalesIts spatial resolution enables visualisation of sub-micrometer and sub-nanometer polymer morphology. But AFMs can contribute much more information about polymers besides simple topographic morphology, including probing molecular-level forces, mapping mechanical, thermal, and electrical properties and assessing solvent and thermal effects in near real time.
Image: Elastic modulus map of a polystyrene (PS)-polycaprolactone (PCL) blend imaged with Fast Force Mapping Mode on the MFP-3D Infinity AFM