Managing an SPM Shared User Facility at MIT

A. Schwartzman
Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
United States

Keywords: AFM techniques, training, documentation


Atomic force microscopy (AFM) is a powerful characterization technique, from which many facets of nanoscience and nanotechnology benefit. Generally, it is used only as a tool to complement someone's research and not the main purpose of the research itself. Thus, having a core AFM facility available to the whole research community is advantageous. I run such a lab at MIT. My goals are two-fold, to train students and postdocs in the various AFM modes of operation and keep the equipment in good running order with minimal degradation of performance over time. Succeeding in the first task aids with the second one. Becoming a capable, independent and responsible user in my lab, for any given type of AFM experiment, involves the following process. First, I meet with the student to discuss in detail their research needs with respect to AFM. Then pursuant to that, a training session is scheduled, in which I explain the fundamental principles associated with the AFM mode of operation, demonstrate the step-by-step operating procedure and provide my written documentation for such. I, along with other managers of AFM core facilities, will discuss our methods in more detail and answer your questions, in the hopes that we can aid you develop your own approaches to running a successful shared experimental AFM lab.