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Active Probe Atomic Force Microscope Instrumentation and Documentation




2: Mechanical Engineering

Faculty Supervisor:

Kamal Youcef-Toumi

Faculty email:


Apply by:



Fangzhou Xia: xiafz@mit.edu

Project Description

Interested in seeing the nanoworld? We have an exciting research project for you on this topic. The Mechatronics Research Lab currently have multiple UROP openings for Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) project. The UROP position is for reproducing an educational low-cost AFM system and document the entire process for development of tutorial and lab manuals. AFM is a powerful and versatile instrument with a wide variety of applications including nano-scale topography imaging, material property characterizing, nano-scale manipulation, nano-fabrication, etc. In the Mechatronics Research Lab, we specialize in design, control, instrumentation and signal processing techniques to achieve ultra-high imaging speed, extend operation environment for specialized applications. The result of our years of research is a powerful microscope capable of imaging the nano-world in real-time. The new possibilities made available through the contributions of this research will be explored in areas such as materials, and biological sciences. You may also check out the news on the website at http://news.mit.edu/2015/new-microscope-real-time-videos-nanoscale-1214 With recent development on active cantilever probe, we have been able to create a low-cost system for educational purpose. We are currently developing a curriculum centered around the new system. As an initial step, pilot workshop has been provided during 2020 IAP for initial lecture and lab sessions. We want to continue the development during 2020 Spring and Summer. The work involves mechanical design and implementation, circuit design, optics, signal processing and controls. You can be involved in any or all of the aspects that are interesting to you.


UROP working on this project can gain extensive experience in system modeling, design, control algorithm, embedded system programing, mechanical design, manufacturing and etc. In this UROP with focus on control system modeling, simulation, and circuit design. Previous experience with one of the following software will be preferred: Matlab, LabVIEW, NI Multisim/Ultiboard. UROP are expected to work 10 - 12 hours per week during the Spring semester for pay or for credit with potential to continue during summer. Specific duties for UROP may include but not limited to the following: 1) PCB design, prototyping and testing 2) Matlab simulation model packaging and user interface design 3) LabVIEW code for system identification development 4) Documentation of the prototyping process 5) Drafting of lab manuals