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Online courses on the fundamentals of atomic force microscopy offered

Online courses covering the fundamentals of atomic force microscopy will be offered beginning August 27, 2012, by nanoHUB-U, an initiative founded by the Network for Computational Nanotechnology and Purdue University.

Ron Reifenberger, professor of physics, and Arvind Raman, professor of mechanical engineering, have spent months packaging their full-semester course on the atomic force microscope (AFM) into two five-week online courses: Fundamental Aspects of AFM, and Dynamic AFM Methods.

“We are convinced that as more researchers gain a fundamental understanding of AFM, then AFM will become more widely used and accepted,” Reifenberger says. “When using an AFM, it’s not always straightforward to understand the results. You must be cautious, and it really helps to understand the limitations of the instrument.”

The two professors began teaching the full-semester course on the fundamentals of AFM at Purdue in 2009. The two online courses provide a self-consistent and unified treatment of AFM.nanoHUB-U_AFM1&2.jpg

“From our perspective, the AFM has been a prime driver behind the rapid development of nanotechnology worldwide. We have found that learning to use an AFM and to properly interpret the data requires a background in a variety of subjects,” Reifenberger says. “This nanoHUB-U course has been developed with an aim to review the required background material and to discuss the physical principles underlying AFM.”

The courses will provide students access to 20-minute video lectures, lecture notes, homework with tutorials, quizzes, exams, Q&A forums for interacting with the professors and fellow students, and simulation tools on nanoHUB. Students will perform numerical simulations using the same software throughout the two courses—VEDA, Virtual Environment for Dynamic AFM.

One of the most-used simulation tools for AFM, VEDA ties together static and dynamic AFM methods. VEDA was developed and is maintained by Arvind Raman’s group. It has been used to run nearly 19,000 simulations from a web browser on nanoHUB since 2007.

The first nanoHUB-U online course on the fundamentals of AFM starts August 27. The second, on dynamic methods, starts October 15.

Registration for each course is $30, or $50 for both. Information and registration are available at

Writer: Jennifer Crowell, communication specialist, Network for Computational Nanotechnology, 765-496-6541,