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Applications brief: AFM-IR: Technology and Applications in Nanoscale Infrared Spectroscopy and Chemical Imaging

Key points

  • AFM-IR breaks the FTIR diffraction limit by 100x enabling nanoscale IR spectroscopy
  • A rapidly emerging technique, AFM-IR shows wide adoption on a wide range of materials and applications
  • AFM-IR provides direct correlation to FTIR techniques enabling nanoscale FTIR, and provides 10nm spatial resolution for chemical imaging over a wide range of materials

Key words

AFM-IR | nanoscale FTIR spectroscopy | 10nm chemical imaging resolution


Alexandre Dazzi and Craig B. Prater


Atomic force microscopy-based infrared spectroscopy (AFM-IR) is a rapidly emerging technique that provides chemical analysis and compositional mapping with spatial resolution far below conventional optical diffraction limits. AFM-IR works by using the tip of an AFM probe to locally detect thermal expansion in a sample resulting from absorption of infrared radiation. AFM-IR thus can provide the spatial resolution of AFM in combination with the chemical analysis and compositional imaging capabilities of infrared spectroscopy.

This article briefly reviews the development and underlying technology of AFM-IR, including recent advances, and then surveys a wide range of applications and investigations using AFM-IR including those in polymers, life sciences, photonics, solar cells, semiconductors, pharmaceuticals, and cultural heritage.

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