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Atomic force microscopy analysis of nanoparticles in non-ideal conditions

Petr Klapetek1*, Miroslav Valtr1, David Nečas2, Ota Salyk3 and Petr Dzik3

Author Affiliations

1 Czech Metrology Institute, Okružní 31, 638 00, Brno, Czech Republic

2 Department of Physical Electronics, Faculty of Science, Masaryk University, Kotlářská 2, 611 37 Brno, Czech Republic

3 Faculty of Chemistry, Brno University of Technology, Purkyňova 118, 612 00 Brno, Czech Republic

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2011, 6:514  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-6-514

Published: 30 August 2011


Nanoparticles are often measured using atomic force microscopy or other scanning probe microscopy methods. For isolated nanoparticles on flat substrates, this is a relatively easy task. However, in real situations, we often need to analyze nanoparticles on rough substrates or nanoparticles that are not isolated. In this article, we present a simple model for realistic simulations of nanoparticle deposition and we employ this model for modeling nanoparticles on rough substrates. Different modeling conditions (coverage, relaxation after deposition) and convolution with different tip shapes are used to obtain a wide spectrum of virtual AFM nanoparticle images similar to those known from practice. Statistical parameters of nanoparticles are then analyzed using different data processing algorithms in order to show their systematic errors and to estimate uncertainties for atomic force microscopy analysis of nanoparticles under non-ideal conditions. It is shown that the elimination of user influence on the data processing algorithm is a key step for obtaining accurate results while analyzing nanoparticles measured in non-ideal conditions.