A chat with the AFM

Have you ever talked with you reaction, products or the instrument you are using? Sometimes they talk back to you:

IMG 1915

 

Me: hello my dear AFM, how is going today?
AFM: same ol’, same ol’. Reflecting laser here, reflecting laser there.
Me: what about trying this surface today?
AFM: why not? Nothing better to do today.
Me: perfect, shall we start then?
AFM: sure, first of all remove my head, take the tip holder and put a new tip in that bastard. I love fresh tips.
Me: roger, where are the tips?
AFM: right there, on the bench.
Me: there are only a coin, the holder and the tweezer…
AFM: come on, I can see the tip from here.
Me: do you mean this super small thing down here?
AFM: yeaaaa.

IMG 1941

Me: You gotta be kidding me….
AFM: come on, put it in.
Me: uhmmm ok, I’ll try.
AFM: do it or do it not, there is no try…..
Me: ok, I’ll do it!
AFM: oh and do not touch the surface of the cantilever.
Me: ok
AFM: and do not destroy the tip with the tweezer…
Me: ok
AFM: and do not press too much the tweezer….
Me: ok
AFM: and naturally do not let the tip touch any surface…
Me: Come on for God sake, how the hell I’m supposed to put it in if I cannot ever touch it?????? 
AFM: use the force Luke, use the force
Me: tze’, R2D2 would have been way better than you.
AFM: Say it again and I’ll self destroy. I want to see R2D2 measuring your sample….
Me: ok, ok, sorry, don’t be so sensitive.

Sweating like a bomb squad agent in the last 3 seconds before the detonation I manage to fit the tip in the holder.

 Me: done, now what?
AFM: now it’s going to be easy. First of all align the laser on the cantilever. Be my guest and use the microscope on the top.
Me: good, but I cannot see the laser spot.
AFM: well move the two screws until you find it.

Finding the laser spot with a microscope is like looking for an apple seed in a football field (whatever football means for you)

Me slightly tired: ok, done.
AFM: perfect, now just align the mirror.
Me: do you mean other random screwing?
AFM: yep
Me: oh dear Lord of microscopy. 

15 minutes and few blasphemy later

Me: done
AFM: perfect, we are almost there. Now down the tip close to the surface. DO NOT TOUCH THE SURFACE. Remember if you touch the surface you start again. Have you ever played “operation”? It’s a kind of that game. Little bit more expensive though….

And this is the reason why I’m doing chemistry and not surgery

Me: I think the tip is close enough to the surface.
AFM: well, then press “approach”

bzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…. 30 min later……

AFM: close enough my ass… 
Me: ok, ok, so probably was not that close, but come on, I don’t want to crash the tip
AFM: CHICKEN!!! CHICKEN!!! 
Me: mocked by an instrument… done!
AFM: ok, sorry that was rude. Now that the tip is on the surface let’s start.
Me: THANKS GOD!
AFM: AH AH| you said it loud, now we should start again.
Me: WHAT?
AFM: yes I’m quite sensitive to any kind of vibration.
Me: ok, I’ll try to be quite.

IMG 1939

AFM: WHAT THE HECK IS THAT? DID YOU CLEAN THE SURFACE???
Me: relax buddy, relax. Maybe it’s just a single spot. Let’s try to move the tip a little bit.

IMG 1935

Me: oh, finally something nice… Hey what the hell are you doing? Why are those things stripy??? WHAT THE??
AFM: relax buddy, relax…. How do you feel now? How do you feel? DO NOT SAY RELAX TO ME! NEVER AGAIN!
Me: look, I was just trying to be polite with you, and helping with your clearly oversensitive crazy mood
AFM: F*CK YOU, I’M NOT MOODY. GO TO THE F*CKING TEM IF I’M MOODY.
Me: can we please discuss later about it. Can we please take at least one single good micrograph today? Can we?
AFM: only because I have nothing better to do today. BUT I STILL HATE YOU!
Me: fine, I’ll bring you out for dinner tonight.
AFM: fine, let’s try another spot. 
Me: fine.
AFM: and remember DO NOT MOVE, DO NOT SPEAK, DO NOT BREATH, DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT DOING SOMETHING. 
Me: you are impossible. 

IMG 1934

Me: seriously? I was not breathing for 1.30h and that’s it? What the hell are those falling star-nanoparticles??? I swear I didn’t move. WHAT THE HELL?? DO YOU READ ME???
AFM: Affirmative Dave. I read you.
Me: can you please explain me why you are doing this to me?
AFM: I’m sorry Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.
Me: Are just some nanoparticle on a surface, how hard can it be????
AFM: Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye.

Finale 1:
Screaming blasphemy walking in the corridor. 
Me: It’s not over. I’ll be back tomorrow, and then we will see….. We will see. MUHWAHWHAWHAWHWHAHW (evil laughter)

Director’s cut:
Someone found my body three days later. Apparently no sign of fight. The autopsy didn’t find anything significant and the case was closed as death by natural causes. A small red light shine from the AFM room. A small red led. From the AFM. A small red led.

3 comments

  1. Nikodem Tomczak

    Ha ha, exactly my first experiences with this particular AFM some 13 years ago. It should be accompanied by a Tips&Tricks book 400 pages thick (anyway it is still a good piece of equipment). Btw, the trick for the “falling stars” is to press couple of times the frame down button just after it starts scanning the frame.

    • Vit

      I agree, it’s an amazing part of equipment, I love it, but I had hard time with that (and actually still having hard time). And yes, the falling stars are from the heat of the piezoelectric that was not stable. They stripy are from the feedback/gain.
      Another day, another blasphemy in the AFM room :)

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