Q250 Scanning Probe Microscope

Table of Contents

About this Machine

This machine is a Quesant Q250 Atomic Force Microscope. Unless you know about scanning probe microscopy Please read up on the basics of what this scanner can do here.

Applications Include:

Functions Include:

Machine Safety

For your personal safety read the following:

For machine safety read the following, keep in mind that if you don’t follow the safety you could damage parts that are VERY EXPENSIVE to repair:

How to Get Help

When using the machine software, if you find that you have a question about the function of a particular control in a particular window just press the F1 keyboard button and the help file will appear with information pertaining to the controls in the window. The online help file is complimentary to the manual. Some information found in the help file is not found in the manual, and vice-versa.

Also ask a Manager if you have any further questions not found in the Manual or the Help File.

Using this Machine

These sections describe the standard usage and common pitfalls.


To set up the system perform the following procedures,

  1. Location Considerations: The SPM is a delicate instrument. It is sensitive to vibrations, acoustical noise, air currents, and temperature changes. Successful results with your instrument will depend in part on the extent to which it can be isolated from these environmental effects.
    • Vibration and Noise: This microscope is placed on a granite slab. Be sure be careful when placing your project on the microscope as the slab can flip which will damage the machine and cause injury.
    • Air Currents and Temperature Fluctuation: There is a cover on the microscope. Be sure to keep the cover closed when operating.
    • The AVIC Option: This microscope is placed within the AVIC (Acoustic and Vibration Isolation Chamber); from air currents, acoustic noise, and mechanical vibrations. The AVIC is a fiberglass chamber lined with one-inch acoustic damping foam, having a transparent access door at the front for changing samples and making scanner adjustments. A passive mechanical spring system (granite slab) inside the chamber isolates the SPM from external mechanical vibrations.
  2. Assembly: As you can see in the diagram below the components in the work area are set up as follows,

  1. Cable Connections: A cable wiring diagram for the system is shown below followed by additional notes concerning the cabling. This should be all set up before you use the microscope, verify with a manager if you have any connection issues.


Software Installation: If you wish to transfer the operation of your microscope to another computer you will have to install all the interface software for Ambios’s DSP control card and the WinTV video camera card. The full process of installing the software is outlined below. Note: The order of theses steps should not be altered. In particular, do not install the DSP card before the WinTV card is successfully installed.

Note: There are separate subfolder for the different versions of Windows: folder Win9xME is for Windows 95, 98, or ME; folder WinXP is for the XP operating system, etc. Follow the instructions given by the ReadMe.doc file within the subfolder that matches your operating system.

Note: Do not select the hardware installation option to have Windows automatically search for the best driver for the DSP card. Windows invariably selects the wrong driver and fails to do the installation correctly.

Note: The Q-port data analysis program must be registered with Ambios before it will be enabled. Instructions for registering Q-port will be given when the program is started.

Software Upgrade: To reinstall or upgrade the software use the CD backup copy of the software package in the ETL. The contents of the CD (excluding optional RCP source code) are as follows:

Insert the CD into the drive and let the automated installation program guide you through the process. If the automated installation program does not start by itself it can be manually initiated by double clicking on the autorun.exe file icon.

It is strongly recommended that you install the software into a new folder, leaving the original SPM software installation intact as a backup in case something goes wrong in the new installation. This also helps you avoid the additional work required to perform a complete recalibration of your microscope from scratch. Simply copy the spm.ini file from your old installation folder into the new installation folder and the calibration will be recovered.

During the installation sequence it is normal to see several dialog boxes notifying you that an older file is about to be written in place of a newer file. This typically happens for one or more of the following files: comctl32.ocx, dao2535.tlb, wintvacc.dll, hcwwintv.ocx, wtvcap.ocx, and chsuite.ocx. Unless you are instructed to do otherwise, always select the option “keep the current version” at the dialog box notification.


Below are the outlines for the three main operations. Since each have several steps they are broken into their own pages, you will still need to follow the shutdown and cleanup steps following the operation.

Basic Operation: Contact Imaging

Intermittent Contact Imaging

Surface Force Measurements

Lateral Force Imaging

Phase Imaging

Magnetic Force Microscopy

Electric Force Microscopy

Motor Control, Camera View


Always unplug the system’s electronic cables with the EIU power switched off!!!! Using the Power Control Module make sure everything is powered down and unplug the power cable.


Be sure to carefully remove your specimen from the microscope and clean up your workstation.

Tips and Tricks

Once you’ve made your way through the scanning process you will have a lot of data to sift through, below are some helpful pages for optimizing your data and analysis images.

Working with Images

Image Analysis

Standard System Calibration (Managers Only!)

For the following types of system calibration and tests refer to the PDF Manual Chapter 9, MANAGERS ONLY,

Troubleshooting (Managers Only)

For troubleshooting refer to the PDF Manual Appendix A. MANAGERS ONLY.