Atomic force microscopy (AFM) or scanning force microscopy (SFM) is a very high-resolution type of scanning probe microscopy, with demonstrated resolution on the order of fractions of a nanometer, more than 1000 times better than the optical diffraction limit. The AFM is one of the foremost tools for imaging, measuring, and manipulating matter at the nanoscale. The information is gathered by “feeling” the surface with a mechanical probe. Piezoelectric elements that facilitate tiny but accurate and precise movements on (electronic) command enable the very precise scanning. In some variations, electric potentials can also be scanned using conducting cantilevers. In newer more advanced versions, currents can even be passed through the tip to probe the electrical conductivity or transport of the underlying surface, but this is much more challenging with very few groups reporting reliable data.
Magnetic force microscope (MFM) is a variety of atomic force microscope, where a sharp magnetized tip is scanning the magnetic sample; the tip-sample magnetic interactions are detected and used to reconstruct the magnetic structure of the sample surface. Many kinds of magnetic interactions are measured by MFM, including magnetic dipole–dipole interaction.
Other SPM groups
University of Cambridge : http://www.ch.cam.ac.uk/resources/CCMR/spm.html/
CNST at Rise University : http://cnst.rice.edu/
Bristol University SPM group : http://teddy.phy.bris.ac.uk/spm/
North Carolina SPM group : http://www.ncsu.edu/aif/SPM/Index.htm
Griffith University SPM facility: http://chem.sci.gu.edu.au/spm/
Commercial SPM links
Digital Instruments : http://www.veeco.com/
JEOL : http://www.jeol.com/
Advanced Surface Microscopy, Inc.: http://www.asmicro.com/
Other links for AFM