A DIY AFM Whokshop




Introduction: A DIY AFM Whokshop

About: Democratize Nanoimaging for Everyone by Hacking DVD Players to Build up Atomic Force Microscopes. Repurpose Blu-ray Drives for Fighting Zika/Dengue Virus.

There is an DIY AFM workshop with one hobbyist from the States and one professor from India. They assembled their own DIY AFM within 2 hours crafting time.

Here is a link to previous project:


Step 1: Preparing the Parts Before Assembly......

Finish edges of the parts.

Step 2: This Time...we Use Instant Glue....

In stead of solder, all the structures are glued by instant glue, which makes assembly easier and healthier.

Step 3: Wiring the Scanner....

Use solder iron for wiring cables of the scanner.

Step 4: Gluing the Z Axis Transducer of the Scanner

Very important!

Step 5: Assembling the AFM Head

Again....glue everything.....

Step 6: ​The Optical and Mechanical Parts Are Done!

Just put one magnet on top of the Z transducer.

Step 7: Performance Evaluation

The optomechanical part is connected to a AFM controller

Step 8: Low Cost AFM Calibration Sample: DVD Data Tracks

Use the DVD data tracks (pitch= 740 nm) for calibrating scanning range of the scanner.

Step 9: Measuring the AFM Calibration Sample (NT MDT TGQ1)

The DIY AFM with economy AFM controller can successfully measure height of square calibration features 20 nm with contact mode.


Step 10: Measuring 1.4 Nm Features on the TGQ1

Surprisingly we found that the DIY AFM can work with non-contact mode (attractive interaction between atoms caused by van-der-Waals forces) which resolves 1.4 nm height feature on the TGQ1.


Step 11: The DIY AFM With Advanced Controller

The DIY AFM with advanced AFM controller can clearly see the DVD data tracks when operated in AC (Tapping) mode.

Step 12: The DIY AFM With Advanced Controller

20 nm Squares and 1.4 nm features are clearly seen.

Step 13: Measuring Nano Particles

Step 14: Resolution Limit Test....

The DIY AFM system with 12bits controller can resolve 0.5 nm which is similar to height of 2 carbon atom layers on HOPG (Highly Ordered Pyrolytic Graphite) surface.



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    67 Discussions

    Dr. Hwu,

    This is great! Would you be able to send me the documentation at jhende6@gmail.com for the AFM and the Wiimote. I would like to get some of my students to build one next year. Also, what software do you use?



    Dear Professor Hwu,

    I am so excited if it is possible to do it at home, would you please kindly to send me the references and design details.


    email: mohamedahmedkhaireh@gmail.com

    Hello Professor Hwu,

    your project is awesome, I would like to try it.

    Could you send me the the detail instruction about how to make it?

    (schematics, code, optical pickup detail and connections ...)




    7 months ago

    Hi Dr. Hwu,

    This is a great project! An incredibly useful analytical tool for studying molecules in chemistry.
    Could you please send me more information; files, schematics, what type of magnets are used, what type of signal connector is used, how do I cheaply build an AFM-probe if there aren't any cheap one to order?

    Look forward to hearing from you soon.
    Kind regards,


    Dear Dr. Hwu,

    Would it be possible please to send me the schematics and codes to try to make one ?

    Many thanks




    8 months ago

    Hello Dr. Hwu,

    This is an amazing project! A very useful analytical tool.

    My students will love this project.

    Could you please send me more information ( files, schematics, etc) about this project? Look forward to hearing from you soon.


    Dear Professor Hwu,

    I am so excited if it is possible to do it at home, would you please kindly to send me the references.


    email: eng_kankanan@yahoo.com

    Dear Professor Hwu,

    It Is really a insteresing project, would kindly to send me the references.


    email: kmrleung@gmail.com

    Hello Professor Hwu,

    Like many others here, I am in awe of the quality of this device! I have worked with Asylum Research AFM's and it gets very finicky. I would love to see learn more about the code and what clever money-saving tricks were involved. If you are able to, my email is waldojeffersss@gmail.com

    Thank You!

    Dear Professor Hwu,

    I have attempted AFM construction in the past. Many approaches required at least one prohibitively expensive component, such as a 3D nanopositioner. Other methods, using a divided four quadrant piezoelectric actuator, achieved poor quality results.

    Your approach promises to fill the gap. I was wondering if I can download a full instruction sheet, schematics and parts list from instructables?

    If I upgrade to Instructables premium, will full schematics be available?

    Alternately, I notice other users are requesting direct email of appropriate information. My email is provided below If Email is the preferred method of communication.



    Hello, Professor! What you did is great! You have opened up access to knowledge in the nanoworld Can you send additional files and schemes to the email? Thank you! shib79ru@gmail.com

    Hi, professor! I'm currently working on a SPM project at my university and got very interested in your project. Could you please send me the details about this? My email is vitorbarbosanc@hotmail.com

    Hi Professor Hwu,

    This project looks fantastic! Can I request some more information about it please?


    Dear Professor Hwu,

    I like this project very much, i'm studying a telecommunication degree and i'm thinking about doing something similar as final degree project but I dont know if this project will exceed my project time. Could you send me the the detail instruction about how to make it?.

    Thank you very much in advance and please keep posting interesting projects.


    1 reply

    Hi JavierPG, sure! I sent you some references already. Enjoy!

    Dear Professor Hwu,

    I like this project very much. I'm currently working on redesigning of AFM, which was made in 2004 at our institute. Could you send me the detail instruction on how to make it, it would be easy for me.

    Thanks in advance!

    Email: mukesh.seep@gmail.com

    1 reply

    Dear Professor Hwu,

    I find your project very interesting. I'm currently building a low cost DC sputtering machine from microwave oven spare parts. If I manage to get it work, it would be wonderful if could measure the deposited thin layers at home. If it is possible, I'd like to ask you to send me a detailed instruction about your AFM solution (components, assembly, software descriptions).

    Thank you for your help in advance and wish you success for your future work.

    My email address: manyjanos@gmail.com

    1 reply

    Hi Manyjanos, I am glad that you like this project. I've sent you some references, have fun!

    Dear professor Hwu

    A truly impressive project!!!.

    I am a Spanish high school teacher. I would like to try this with some students!!!.
    Would you send me more details, please?.
    Thank you very much in advance.