HomeAward WinnersPark AFM Scholarship Award Overwhelming Success Continues With Global Expansion

Park AFM Scholarship Award Overwhelming Success Continues With Global Expansion

Park AFM Scholarships have been awarded to ten outstanding researchers from leading institutions and this year the program will expand globally

“We are delighted to offer financial incentive to Park AFM scholars who are pioneering new research methodologies in Nanotechnology at leading academic institutions worldwide,” stated Keibock Lee, Park Systems President. “Our continued mission is to support the promotion of shared knowledge amongst interdisciplinary teams of scientists and engineers to advance nanoscale discoveries.

Park AFM Scholarship Award is eligible to postdoctoral students or researchers working in nanotechnology research using Park AFM. As progress for nanotechnology research and development advances at an unprecented rate, universities world-wide offer degree programs in nanotechnology. Park Systems, world-leading manufacturer of Atomic Force Microscopes is offering two monetary scholarships to promote the education of future scientists and engineers in a number of nanoscale research areas that require advanced nano microscopy for analysis and to promote shared research findings and methodologies amongst researchers.

For more information on the Park AFM Scholarship, go to: http://www.parksystems.com/index.php/medias/programs/park-afm-scholarship

Below are the first Park AFM Scholarship Award Winners.



I’ve found the Park XE-100 to be a versatile and convenient platform for AFM and STM. Its low vertical vibration was particularly useful for my study of self-assembly on graphene, as the measured topographic variation of interest was often less than 1 Angstrom.

Self-assembly of environmental adsorbates on graphene and other 2D materials Abstract:

Graphene sheets on atomically flat substrates are expected to be flat. Yet recent studies of nominally flat graphene using high-resolution atomic force microscopy have revealed an apparently corrugated surface: topography scans show large-scale periodic struc! tures of stripes whose period is 4 nm and whose amplitude is less than a nanometer. I will present scanning probe and optical measurements that show that these stripes are self-assembled environmental adsorbates, the chemical identity of which is still under study. This self-assembly appears to be common on 2D materials, as the same phenomenon occurs on hexagonal boron nitride sheets, and 4 nm-periodic stripes were recently observed on molybdenum disulfide by another group. I will discuss the impact of the self-assembled stripes on the frictional, optical, and electronic properties of graphene samples.  References: P. Gallagher et al. Nature Commun. 7, 10745 (2016). P. Gallagher et al. in prep (2016).



How do you think your research will impact society in a positive way?

I hope that the insights we gain from probing the nanoscale electronic properties of applied materials will lead to improvements in their performance. This could include better surface acoustic devices from ferroelectrics with application to wireless communications, better phase change memory for computing, and of course better photovoltaics.

“Our Park AFM gives us the stability and precision that we need to push the boundaries of ultra-sensitive nanoscale impedance measurements.”
AFM Scholarship Winner Scott Johnston in front of the Park AFM




Electronic transport properties of epitaxial graphene buffer layer on SiC (0001)

Park AFM Scholarship Winner , Jean-Philippe Turmaud currently working on his PhD in Physics from Georgia Tech where his research focuses on the electronic properties of different forms of epitaxial graphene on silicon carbide. He characterizes samples by Raman spectroscopy, AFM, XPS and ARPES to confirm their structural properties and produce electronic devices on single SiC terraces.

Our Park AFM allows us to answer  crucial questions about the structure of the surface of our material: Did we produce a surface covered with graphene? What is the size of the graphene ribbons we are going to investigate? Is there any kind of contamination? What is the roughness of the surface? – Jean-Philippe Turmaud

The confinement control sublimation is used to produce high quality epitaxial graphene on SiC for nanoelectronics. We report here on the experimental investigation of the first graphene layer grown on SiC(0001) (the buffer layer). The buffer layer is a semiconducting form of graphene, with a gap in the density of state previously probed by ARPES and STM measurement. We characterize our samples by Raman spectroscopy, AFM, XPS and ARPES to confirm their structural properties and produce electronic devices on single SiC terraces. The temperature and electrical field dependence of the bulk conductivity of the buffer layer are investigated and the effects of contacts and gas adsorption are considered. The observed behavior seem to be related to the known structural periodicity of the buffer layer.

How do you think your research will impact society in a positive way?

There is no doubt that today’s society is profoundly shaped by our use of technology. From renewable energy production to self driving cars, the need for cheap but efficient functional materials is constantly increasing. The development of the silicon industry was only possible through years of research on the fundamental and practical properties of semiconductors. In the same way, materials of future application need the same fundamental knowledge of their properties. My research is oriented towards that goal. It focuses on understanding the electronic transport in epitaxial graphene, a promising candidate as a successor to silicon in many applications. My project aims to bring light onto limiting factors of electrical conduction in novel two dimensional materials like graphene, to eventuality overcome them and produce competitive devices.

What is the best or most useful part of using Park AFM for your research?

Prior to building devices with epitaxial graphene on silicon carbide, it is essential to know the structure of the surface of our material: did we produce a surface covered with graphene? What is the size of the graphene ribbons we are going to investigate? Is there any kind of contamination? what is the roughness of the surface? Our Park AFM allows us to answer those crucial questions. The most powerful mode we use is the Lateral Force Microscopy. It allows us, with excellent resolution to measure the local friction of the surface and discriminate between a bare silicon carbide surface, one layer of graphene and two or more layers of graphene, which all have different friction coefficients. We can then build our devices accordingly.


In collaboration with NASA and the National Institute of Aerospace, and financially supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, he tackles very challenging problems and has made several breakthroughs using state-of-the-art nanomechanical testing techniques. His research findings help to better understand the mechanical strength of nanotube structures and the local stress transfer on the nanotube-polymer interfaces, both critical for design and optimization of innovative nanotube-based material systems. He has published nineteen articles and has two book chapters to his credit. He has made morethan 20 conference presentations and holds one patent. Dr. Xiaoming Chen received several awards and honors from State University of New York at Binghamton, National Science Foundation and American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Here we present an in situ electron microscopy nanomechanical study of t nanotube-polymer interfaces between individual CNTs/BNNTs and polymers in conjunction with atomistic simulations. By pulling out individual nanotubes from polymer films inside a high resolution electron microscope, the nanomechanical measurements capture the shear lag effect on nanotube–polymer interfaces. Our nanomechanical measurements reveal that BNNTs can form much stronger binding interfaces with polymers than comparable CNTs and that the interfacial strength of BNNT-epoxy interfaces is higher than that of BNNT-PMMA interfaces. The observed superior load transfer capacity of BNNT-polymer interfaces is ascribed to both the polarized nature of B-N bonds and the high bonding potentials of B and N atoms, which are supported by molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. The findings contribute to a better understanding of the local load transfer on the tube–polymer interface and the tube’s reinforcing mechanism. In addition, the extraordinary load transfer capacity of BNNT-polymer interfaces suggests that BNNTs are excellent reinforcing nanofiller materials for light-weight and highstrength polymer nanocomposites.

1.  How do you think your research will impact society in a positive way?

The research objective of this project is to investigate the mechanical properties of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and boron nitride nanotubes (BNNTs) and their polymer composites by using multi-scale experimental approaches. This study will focus on the quantitative experimental characterization of (1) mechanical properties of CNTs and BNNTs in three structural forms (i.e. individual tubes, thin-bundles and yarns) and the interfacial binding strength of the respective tube-tube interactions; and (2) mechanical properties of CNT and BNNT-based polymer composites and the interfacial shear strength of the respective tube-polymer interfaces. Our proposed nanotube-reinforced polymer composite study will employ epoxy and polyimide as matrix materials because they are widely used for structural applications in aerospace industries. The elastic moduli and yield strengths of CNT and BNNT nanostructures and the respective tube-tube and tube-polymer interfacial strengths will be characterized by using the state of the art in-situscanning electron microscopy (SEM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM) mechanical characterization techniques. Both of our proposed nanoscale experimental techniques uniquely enable the high-resolution concurrent measurements of the applied load and the mechanical response of the nanostructure under a variety of testing conditions (e.g. tensile, peeling and pull-out tests). The mechanical properties of CNT and BNNT-based yarns and thin-film polymer composite will be characterized by using micro/meso-scale tensile testing techniques. Using our multi-scale experimental platforms, we will systematically investigate the effects of harsh environments (e.g. high temperature and strong radiation) on the tube-tube interfacial strength and mechanical properties of CNTs and BNNTs, and the effect of the surface functionalization on the tube-polymer interfacial stress transfer and mechanical properties of CNT and BNNT-reinforced polymer composites. The impact of this project includes significant advances of the nanoscale mechanical characterization technique and our knowledge of the mechanical properties of CNTs and BNNTs in various structural forms and the interfacial strength of the respective tube-tube and tube-polymer interactions. This study will provide critical insights into the role of the interfacial interaction in the mechanical properties of CNTs and BNNTs and their polymer composites, and will directly contribute to the optimal design, modeling and manufacturing of novel multi-material and multi-functional light-weight high-strength materials systems, which are critically demanded for manyaerospace and automobile industriesapplications.

2.  What is the best or most useful part of using Park AFM for your research?

As a leading provider of atomic force microscopy, Park systems provides powerful functions and tools for nanoscale research and engineering. The most useful part of Park system in my research is Lateral Force Microscopy (LFM), which not only provides accurate topographic measurements, but also gives the surface frictional information of our nanoscale research samples. When the AFM cantilever scan the sample, the cantilever can move even cut the sample with specific normal load and scanning velocity, meanwhile the morphology and lateral force will be recorded. By using LFM, we already successfully investigate the dynamic and frictional properties of carbon nanotubes, boron nitride nanotube, graphene and boron nitride nanosheets.


His research focus is on experimental nanomechanics of novel 1D and 2D nanostructures, testing the mechanical properties and interfaces, investigate the fundamental mechanical properties of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and boron nitride nanotubes (BNNTs) and their metal composites by using multi-scale experimental approaches.

Nanomechanical Folding and Unfolding of Graphene on Flat Substrate

Graphene is a type of two-dimensional nanostructure with extraordinary physical properties, and is promising for a number of applications. Due to its ultra-thin characteristics, graphene can easily fold under external stimuli such as mechanical forces. The substantial local deformation in folded graphene has a prominent influence on its electrical properties. Understanding and ultimately having a good command of the mechanical deformation in folded graphene is of importance tothe design and manufacturing of graphene origami and its functional mechanical and electrical properties. The study focuses on investigating the local folding and unfolding behaviors of few-layer graphene sheets by using atomic force microscopy (AFM) techniques. The bending rigidity of few-layer graphene and the interlayer shear interaction during the graphene folding process are studied. The results reveal that the bending stiffness of two to six layers graphene follows a square-power relationship with its thickness. The study demonstrates that it is a plausible venue to qualify the pure bending stiffness of graphene through measuring its self-folding conformation on flat substrates. The nanomechanical measurements also reveal that individual graphene sheets can be mechanically folded in a buckling delamination mode, which leads to accordion-shape self folded graphene on flat substrates. This work is useful to better understand the structural and mechanical properties of graphene, and in the pursuit of its applications, in particular, as programmable nanoscale origami structures.

How do you think your research will impact society in a positive way?

With the development of nanotechnology, nanomaterial has been widely studied by lots of research groups. But the fundamental research still remains limited. I think our research is quite important for the applications of nanomaterials (Carbon nanotubes, Graphene,etc). Since during the manufacture process of graphene based devices, especially in aerospace and automobile industries, folding and unfolding phenomenon cannot be avoided. In our study, we quantitatively explored the folding and unfolding process by using atomic force microscopy (AFM) techniques. The research findings are useful to the study of active and controllable folding of graphene and in the pursuit of graphene origami with complex geometries.

What is the best or most useful part of using Park AFM for your research?

For our research, Park AFM is not only used for topographic images of sample, but also worked as a nano-manipulator. So the availability of accurate force control is quite important for us.With the powerful software (XEI), we can take advantage of Park AFM to applied normal load on the sample in order to fold and unfold the graphene and record the corresponding topography and lateral force profiles, which is the key data for our study.


Her current research interests include the development of advanced nanostructured electrode materials and solid-state electrolytes for flexible rechargeable metal-air batteries

Flexible bifunctional oxygen electrode through morphological emulation of human hair array for rechargeable zinc air batteries

Zinc-air batteries have a huge weight advantage over comparable types and significantly improve energy density. Many researchers have sought highly efficient nanosized oxygen electrocatalysts for better battery performance and rechargeability, but the potential benefits of those catalysts are lost significantly by depositing physically on limited surfaces of the air electrodes. Inspired by the growth and morphology of the human hair, we have designed an electrically rechargeable, nanoarchitectured air electrode that morphologically emulates human hair array. This hair-like array, consisting of nanoassemblies involving two-dimensional mesoporous Co3O4 nanopetals in one-dimensional carbon nanotubes, is supported vertically on a flexible stainless-steel mesh (Co3O4-NCNT/SS). The morphology of the hair-like nanoassemblies was well characterized by AFM, SEM and TEM techniques. Using the Co3O4-NCNT/SS air electrode, a solid-state zinc-air battery is able to deliver a high energy density of 847.6 Wh kg-1, accompanied with excellent cycling stability over 600 h. In addition to the pronounced electrochemical performance, the superior mechanical flexibly of the Co3O4-NCNT/SS electrode allows its ! use in smart-wearable electronic application.

1.  How do you think your research will impact society in a positive way?

Batteries are a hugely important technology. Modern life would be impossible without them. Conventional approaches to powering mobile electronics have predominantly focused on maximizing capacity in rechargeable batteries intended as internal components in rigid products. New innovation and approaches to energy storage are required to meet the expanded physical and safety requirements of new flexible and thin form factor applications that are intended for new use cases, such as wearable electronics and on body medical devices. The flexible zinc-air battery technology we developed is essential to make electronics systems truly flexible while maintaining electrical functions. The unique feature of the nanostructured air electrode is key to robust flexibility and high energy density. Thus, we should expect battery technology advances to be one of the cornerstone enablers for new functionality and product design in thin, flexible, lightweight, and low cost electronics.

2.  What is the best or most useful part of using Park AFM for your research?

Park AFM is a very useful tool to analyze structural geometry and to acquire nanoscale morphology of my electrode material. Of particular use is the in-liquid imaging technology that AFM provides. This technique allows for the study of the electrochemical reaction analyses of the three-dimensional nanostructured electrode material in liquid electrolyte directly.