An introductory talk about scanning probe microscopes (SPMs) at the undergraduate level to explain what an SPM does and how it functions. The three main types of microscopy are summarized and used to motivate the invention of SPMs in the early 1980s. The physical principles required to understand the operation of an atomic force microscope (AFM) are discussed in a simple way. The essential components common to any SPM instrument are reviewed with an aim to better understand the function of this simple but versatile instrument. A few examples to illustrate state of the art work performed with SPMs are also cited.
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Birck Technology Center, Room 1001, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN