SOLVER Pipe - Atomic Force Microscope for nondestructive diagnostic of engineering materials


Atomic Force Microscope for in situ nondestructive testing in industrial settings


Early warning and forecasting of the deterioration of engineering materials operating in extreme conditions is a high priority activity within many industrial plants. The ability to perform diagnostics on a plant’s metal work without taking it offline is particularly of high value to industries in the energy, processing and other sectors.

Currently diagnostic equipment is only able to discover deterioration in operational pipework and associated equipment after its condition has already reached a dangerous stage of degradation. SOLVER Pipe is a new high-precision and reliable diagnostic system that allows plant managers the ability to decrease risks and achieve incident-free operation through anticipatory control and scheduled maintenance of materials and equipment within their industrial facilities.


SOLVER Pipe, with its use of Atomic force microscopy (AFM), holds a number of key advantages over other modern diagnostic methods:

  • Advantage over electron microscopy: compact, cheap and does not require complex vacuum technology.
  • Advantage over optical microscopy: images the structure of materials at a range of magnification levels from micro to nanoscale.
  • The system images at a wide range of magnifications while remaining online, thereby it is possible to obtain more complete information about the material surface compared with data obtained using alternative methods. Simultaneous measurement of the hardness of the material in the analyzed area can be performed.
  • The AFM image generated is a digital matrix from which both quantified characteristics and mathematical/statistical information can be derived. The digital image also enables pattern recognition algorithms to be applied for automatic defect identification. This provides key diagnostic information for plant managers in their operational planning as well as creating new possibilities for determining the characteristics responsible for the deterioration of the materials operational life.


Coupled with the PX Ultra controller and newest Nova PX data processing software, NEXT realizes the largest suite of AFM and STM techniques both for beginner and advanced users. NEXT provides 60+ modes and techniques in basic configuration.

Easy-to-use and flexible software

SOLVER Pipe software contains predefined settings and smart algorithms for fast configuration and operation in all advanced modes. The software performs measuring, processing and presentation of results with high information content and visibility of all captured data.

Electrical studies

SOLVER Pipe offers a wide variety of electric measurement techniques, including Electrostatic Force Microscopy with amplitude and frequency modulation, Kelvin Probe Force Microscopy with amplitude or phase modulation, Spreading Resistance Imaging, Piezoresponse Force Microscopy.

Topography measurements

Contact, Amplitude modulation, Frequency modulation and HybriD Mode AFM techniques are available for topography measurements.


One of the additional features SOLVER Pipe is the possibility of nano mechanical measurements. In particular, Pipe SOLVER allows to obtain the numerical values of the Young's modulus using standard AFM cantilevers.

Magnetic properties

SOLVER Pipe allows to provide MFM measurements by use two-pass technique, line-by-line and frame-by-frame analyses.

Data Analysis

SOLVER Pipe advanced software allows the user to analyze acquired data and present it in a form suitable for practical use by a trained in-house technician. Automated analysis of digital images provides structural characteristics of the materials tested, including the ability to select grains and pores and to build images of extended objects.
The condition of material and its suitability for further operation can be estimated precisely from the images generated by SOLVER Pipe. Information presented includes: distribution of grains by size, the state and grain boundaries, analysis of pore distribution (by size, area, and volume) The system also produces high magnification optical images which enables side by side comparison with the AFM data obtained.

Examples of data presentation

Acquired data representation:
AFM images of defects and line profiles of imaged sections.

Acquired data representation:
2D and 3D images of 5х5 µm scans of the analyzed surface, histogram of heights distribution, surface statistical parameters.

Data processing:
AFM image, defects highlighting, defects distribution by volume, the distribution of defects in an area.

Defect recognition:
Result of highlighting – 71 pores in metal (alloy P91, tested on fatigue + creep to failure).

Scanning of large areas: obtaining 200 µm scan through combination of nine 80 µm scans.

Software module MultiScan Overlay of AFM and optical images of metal surface.

Application notes


Oil Inductry:
Oil refinery, Raffineria di Roma, Italy The SPM analysis used for in situ direct non-destructive testing in industrial environment.
Steam Turbine Service:
Steam turbine servicing, Poland SOLVER Pipe used for testing a steam turbine rotor.
Power Utilities:
Supercritical electrical power plant, Philippines Fastening of SOLVER Pipe on a main steam line pipe.
Equipment Analysis:
EDF, Fontainebleau, France Using SOLVER Pipe for offline analyze of plant components.


Atomic Force Microscopy - Contact, Amplitude Modulation, Frequency Modulation, non resonance oscillation technique HybriD Mode, Lateral Force Microscopy, Force Modulation Microscopy, Scanning Spreading Resistance Imaging, Piezoresponce Force Microscopy & Switching Spectroscopy, Electrostatic Force Microscopy, Kelvin Probe Force Microscopy, Magnetic Force Microscopy, AFM Spectroscopies, AFM Lithography (Force, Current, Voltage).

Technical data

AFM head
Scanning range 100×100×7 um
Scanning type by probe
Size 72×100×102 mm
Weight 0,7 kg
Positioning platform
Size 212×350×135 mm
Weight 4 kg
SPM head movement range 50×50×30 mm
Movement accuracy
X, Y 1 um
Z 0.4 um
Video camera
Resolution 640×480 pix
Plane sample size unlimited
Cylindrical sample diameter from 120 mm

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