Local characterisation methods for the investigation of global properties of materials

The Department of Materials Science and Methods at the Saarland University is a center for scanning probe microscopy and materials characterization at various length scales. Our research fields involve characterization of the macro-, micro- and nano-scale properties. Combining multiple different types of microscopes enables us to acquire a desired result from any sample, while every type of microscope has its strengths and weaknesses. With the aid of light microscope and SEM, we can create an image in the plane horizontal to the surface while the techniques rely on electromagnetic radiation or the emission of electrons. Hence, it is difficult to evaluate the true height or depth of features on a studied surface using these techniques. The atomic force microscope (AFM) is a device which solves these problems – it can precisely evaluate the height and depth of features, creating true, three-dimensional images with a potential for extreme resolution.