A guide to nanoscale IR spectroscopy: resonance enhanced transduction in contact and tapping mode AFM-IR
Infrared (IR) spectroscopy is a broadly applicable, composition sensitive analytical technique. By leveraging the high spatial resolution of atomic force microscopy (AFM), the photothermal effect, and wavelength-tunable lasers, AFM-IR enables IR spectroscopy and imaging with nanoscale (< 10 nm) resolution. The transduction of a sample's photothermal expansion by an AFM probe tip ensures the proportionality between the AFM-IR signal and the sample absorption coefficient, producing images and spectra that are comparable to far-field IR databases and easily interpreted. This convergence of characteristics has spurred robust research efforts to extend AFM-IR capabilities and, in parallel, has enabled AFM-IR to impact numerous fields. In this tutorial review, we present the latest technical breakthroughs in AFM-IR spectroscopy and imaging and discuss its working principles, distinctive characteristics, and best practices for different AFM-IR measurement paradigms. Central to this review, appealing to both expert practitioners and novices alike, is the meticulous understanding of AFM-IR signal transduction, which is essential to take full advantage of AFM-IR capabilities. Here, we critically compile key information and discuss instructive experiments detailing AFM-IR signal transduction and provide guidelines linking experimental parameters to the measurement sensitivity, lateral resolution, and probed depth. Additionally, we provide in-depth tutorials on the most employed AFM-IR variants (resonance-enhanced and tapping mode AFM-IR), discussing technical details and representative applications. Finally, we briefly review recently developed AFM-IR modalities (peak force tapping IR and surface sensitivity mode) and provide insights on the next exciting opportunities and prospects for this fast-growing and evolving field.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Nanoscale Spectroscopy