Course syllabus

Welcome to the homepage of the "Scanning Probe Microscopy" course. 
In 2020, the course will be given online, due to the restrictions induced by the Corona pandemic.
Please join the introduction meeting and the first lectures, following the original time schedule that can be found below, through Zoom using the following direct link:
Alternative log-in options to Zoom can be found in this file: Zoom meeting - log-in details.pdf

The course deals with the exciting field of high-resolution microscopy using scanning probe methods. Today these techniques have found their use in a wide range of research areas - from advanced physics and chemistry with atomic precision to applications in life sciences. The course will encompass both theoretical and practical aspects of handling and possible applications of SPM. The techniques of STM (Scanning Tunneling Microscopy) and AFM (Atomic Force Microscopy) will be given particular attention. 



  • Introduction to scanning probe microscopy.
  • Instrumentation: positioning devices, probes, data acquisition/electronics, ultrahigh vacuum environment, and vibration isolation concepts.
  •  STM: principle and practical applications, methods for imaging and spectroscopy, structural, electronic, and chemical contrast mechanisms, sample and probe preparation, atomic resolution on metals and semiconductors
  •  AFM: principle and practical applications, methods for imaging, force curves, applications.
  • Optical SPM techniques: principles and practical applications
  • Examples of more advanced SPM techniques and combined methods
  • Applications of SPM in: condensed matter, chemistry, and nanotechnology.

Note: The 1986 Nobel prize in physics was awarded for development of the STM.​​


Form of teaching

  • Lectures on different aspects of scanning probe microscopy,  complemented by short student exercises, which are due one week after the lecture. The presentations of the lectures are made available for download during the course.
  • Hand-on lab practice at two state-of-the-art scanning tunneling microscopes
  • Project part with student presentations (in groups of two, 15 min / group) on selected topics, supervised by researchers actively working within this topic, with a short written report (4 – 6 pages / group)​​                                
Recommended complementary readings are handed out during each lecture. Additionally, short exercises for applying the knowledge of the lectures and reading, which are mandatory for this course, are given after each lecture. They can be handed in individually or in groups of 2, by e-mail, during the lectures, or in Jan's or Rainer's post box outside the lecture room K457. Two hand-on lab practice sessions (half day each) are a mandatory part of the course: one at a scanning tunneling microscope, one at an atomic force microscope. 

The project part is essential for the SPM course. Here you chose an SPM-related topic which you will present – in a group of two students – to the class in a seminar. This presentation should take 15 - 20 minutes, where both members of the group should be actively involved. Before your presentation you have to submit a written report of 4 to 6 pages, summarizing the main aspects of your presentation and working as a hand-out for your fellow students.
You will be assisted by a supervisor, who is involved in current research on the topic you have chosen, in finding and understanding relevant literature and then preparing a presentation about your topic.

The course will finish with an oral exam, which takes 15 to 20 minutes and determines 50% of the final grade.

In 2020, the oral exam will be held online, using Zoom.

Also in 2020, the lab sessions (STM lab and AFM lab) are shifted to fall 2020.



Oral exam on content of lectures, seminar project, and lab practice (50% of the grade)

  • Seminar presentations (30% of the grade)
  • Short exercises corresponding to the lectures (20% of the grade)
  • Grading scale: U-G-VG


  • Lecture scripts & complementary literature handed out at the lectures
  • Textbook excerpts & research papers for the seminar presentations, handed out by the corresponding supervisor ​







Mon 23 Mar


Introduction meeting (JK + RT)


Wed 25 Mar

13 – 15

SPM: general principles, types of interaction (RT)


Mon 30 Mar

13 – 15

SPM: setup, technical realization (JK)


Wed 1 Apr

13 – 15

Scanning Tunneling Microscopy: theory and examples (JK)


Mon 6 Apr

13 – 15

STS: Scanning Tunneling Spectroscopy (RT)


Wed 15 Apr

13 – 15

Introduction of seminar topics (project supervisors)


Mon 27 Apr

15 – 17

AFM: Atomic Force Microscopy, setup, non-contact mode (JK)


Wed 29 April

13 – 15

AFM: different modes, examples, Kelvin probe (JK)


Mon 4 May

13 – 15

Optical methods: SNOM and STL (RT)


Wed 6 May

13 - 15

to be announced / image analysis (RT)


Wed 13 May

13 – 15

SPM with advanced light sources (Anders Mikkelsen)


18 & 20 May

13 – 15

Student presentations


week 22
25 - 27 May


Short oral exams (15 – 20 min)




​Jan Knudsen,, phone: +46 46 222 82 83
Rainer Timm,,   phone: +46 46 222 82 94






Course summary:

Date Details Due