AFM Modes

DataCube Modes

Multidimensional nanoscale information at every pixel

Complete Solution for Nanoelectrical Characterization

DataCube modes expand capabilities, such as PeakForce TUNA and PeakForce KPFM, by enabling the acquisition of multidimensional data cubes. For materials scientists and engineers, this breaks long-standing efficiency and characterization barriers. These new capabilities provide simultaneous capture of nanometer-scale electrical and mechanical characteristics in high-density data cubes, previously impossible to attain in a single measurement.

Correlated Multidimensional Electrical Spectroscopy

Dimension XR's DataCube modes provide multidimensional nanoscale information at every pixel, simultaneously capturing in a single measurement both electrical and mechanical characteristics.

DataCube modes utilize FASTForce Volume to perform a force-distance spectrum in every pixel, with a user-defined 'dwell time'. Using high data capture rates, a multitude of electrical measurements are performed during the dwell time, resulting in electrical and mechanical spectra at every pixel. Typical force-distance spectra, measured at a ramp rate of 40 Hz with a 100 ms dwell time per pixel, provide full characterization in a single experiment, which is unheard of in a commercial AFM. It is no longer an epic experiment to simultaneously render topographical, mechanical, and multidimensional electrical information. Now such data can be achieved as a routine AFM measurement. DataCube mode renders multidimensional data cubes at nanometer-length scales with compound data in every scan. This capability enables a powerful series of new modes.


Conductive AFM results are influenced by the applied sample voltage, depicting important performance transitions of a material or device. DCUBE-TUNA enables simultaneous acquisition of nanomechanical information and electrical conductivity at a multitude of sample voltages in a single measurement, building a dense data cube of sample information. This is the only mode providing a complete picture of the sample conductivity, with details such as conductivity type (Ohmic, non-Ohmic, Schottky, etc.), and barrier heights.

Current images collected on Maghemite (γ-Fe2O3) while ramping the sample voltage from -2V to +2V in each pixel. Different grains have different conduction mechanisms, highlighted by viewing the data as ‘slices’ by sweeping the voltage.


Scanning capacitance microscopy (SCM) provides a method for direct measurement of active carrier concentration with nanometer-scale accuracy. DCUBE-SCM enables simultaneous acquisition of nanomechanical and carrier information at a multitude of sample voltages in a single measurement. The technique provides a unique solution to observe dC/dV amplitude and dC/dV phase value changes and junction position shifts. Through the resulting data cubes, a researcher can observe additional information on oxide thickness, oxide charges, threshold voltages, contamination from mobile ions, and interface trap density.

Slices through dC/dV amplitude while ramping voltage from -2V to 2V, showing pnp junction profile changes with voltage. Data courtesy of N. Chevalier & D. Mariolle at U Grenoble Alpes, CEA, LETI, France.
dC/dV amplitude images collected on two adjacent pnp transistors in SRAM memory while ramping the sample voltage from -2V to +2V. The voltage-dependent pn junction positions corresponds to the expected behavior. Some dopant defects are only visible at specific voltages. Scan size 3x3 um. Data courtesy of N. Chevalier and D. Mariolle, Uni. Grenoble Alpes, CEA, LETI, France.


Piezoresponse (Piezoforce) Microscopy (PFM) is a technique that maps out the inverse piezoelectric effect on a sample at nanometers scale. DCUBE-PFM enables simultaneous acquisition of nanomechanical information and PFM amplitude/phase spectra in data cubes, which reveal the switching voltage of each individual domain in a single data set. In addition, DCUBE-PFM overcomes artifacts, sample damage, and complexity of data analysis associated with conventional Contact Mode approaches.

DCUBE-PFM height & PFM images (left), and spectra plots (right) along a 1.2 µm long line crossing multiple domains in a BFO ferro-electric sample. The plots show both PFM amplitude and PFM phase vs. bias during a ramp from -6V to 0V. The switching voltage can be extracted for each individual domain.


DCUBE piezoresponse (piezoforce) microscopy in conjunction with contact resonance provides the benefits of DCUBE-PFM with the added benefit of providing a frequency ramp at every pixel, providing a full spectrum and the peak sensitivity at the contact resonance.

DCUBE-CR-PFM data collected on a LiTaO3 sample showing topography, PFM amplitude at contact resonance (CR), PFM Phase and the number of CR peaks (zero when the material does not show piezo-electric response). The PFM amplitude & phase vs. frequency spectra, and corresponding force spectra are shown for a few pixels.


Scanning Spreading Resistance Microscopy (SSRM) is used to map the variation in majority carrier concentration in doped semiconductors. DCUBE-SSRM enables simultaneous acquisition of nanomechanical information and 3D carrier density mapping in a single measurement. The resulting data cubes provide complete characterization including nanoscale topography, mechanical information and log-resistance spectroscopy. In addition, I-V measurements reveal conductivity whether Ohmic, non-Ohmic, Schottky, or other.

The image series here shows how DataCube SSRM on a Dimension Icon XR helps map out the component distribution and uncover drastic particle to particle variation. Here the modulus map available in DataCube mode clearly distinguishes the hard metal oxide particles from the surrounding soft binder, while a concurrently acquired conductivity map reveals the uneven distribution of carbon black. A particle near the top edge of the image is seen not to be covered by carbon black and a series of conductivity images extracted from the same data cube identifies this particle as dead i.e. inactive over the entire range of operating voltages.

DataCube-sMIM (DCUBE-sMIM)

Scanning Microwave Microscopy Imaging (sMIM) provides maps of the capacitive (C ) and resistive (R ) part of the impedance, as well as dC/dV, and dR/dV data – at a user defined sample voltage. With DCUBE-sMIM one can acquire the same properties at a variety of sample voltages, in a single scan - and get the ‘full picture’ at once. The spectra also reveal additional information, such as conduction type (Ohmic, non-Ohmic, Schottky, etc.), oxide thickness, oxide charges, contamination from mobile ions, and interface trap density.

Force vs. time, and Capacitance (sMIM-C) vs. time plots in 2 pixels with opposite dopant type. The typical S-shaped C-V curves, acquired during a 100ms dwell time, are visible for both n-type and p-type. The images show ‘slices’ at 3 different sample voltages in the DataCube on a Si sample with dual staircase profile (See for a sample description: DOI: 10.1016/j.microrel.2014.07.024, Infineon Munich). At different voltages, the contrast & sensitivity in n-type and p-type regions varies.