SThM - Scanning Thermal Microscopy

SThM - Scanning Thermal Microscopy

Scanning Thermal Microscopy (SThM) is an advanced SPM mode intended for simultaneous obtaining nanoscale thermal and topography images. NT-MDT’s SThM kit is able to visualize temperature and thermal conductivity distribution at the sample surface. The SThM system hardware includes electronic controller, software, and probes.

SThM - Scanning Thermal Microscopy, SThM probe scheme
SThM probe scheme

SThM - Scanning Thermal Microscopy, SEM image of the SThM probe
SEM image of the SThM probe


SThM mode of operation with an AFM requires a specialized probe with a resistor built into the cantilever. NT-MDT’s SThM module allows one to monitor the resistance changes correlated with the temperature at the end of the probe. So the system is able to monitor relative changes of sample temperature and thermal conductivity. NT-MDT’s thermal probes provide better than 100 nm lateral resolution for both topography and thermal images.

The specialized SThM cantilever, made of SiO2 with a thin metal layer, is deposited on the probe in such a way that the highest resistance portion of the layer is concentrated near the tip apex.

Controller and software

The SThM controller is connected to the main AFM electronics via standard extension socket. The system is easily adjusted through the user-friendly software interface. For ease of use the SThM control program is integrated in the main NT-MDT AFM software as one of the contact mode methods.

Due to high sensitivity of the system and low noises of the output voltage, the electronic controller provides high signal resolution.

An additional advantage, the compact size of electronics hardware simplifies the setup and maximizes your time scanning high resolution SThM images.

Scanning Thermal Microscopy allows one to obtain images of <100 nm lateral resolution. Sample: Optical Fiber in Epoxy. Left – topography image, Right – thermal conductivity image. Scan size: 6 x 6 um.

SThM, Electronic controller
Electronic controller
SThM, Kit of probes
Kit of probes
SThM, Cantilever holder
Cantilever holder
SThM, AFM head
AFM head

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