Three preparatory steps are required prior to using sample images generated by any Atomic Force Microscope. First the image must be processed, next the display dimension and color scale, etc., need to be selected, and finally, the image needs to be analyzed. Historically, the image processing software required to perform such functions needed to be purchased.
Thankfully, within the past few years a community of researchers and developers has facilitated the birth and growth of an Open Source - i.e. free - software called "Gwyddion" that's available to do all three essential image processing and analysis steps. AFMWorkshop utilizes this Gwyddion software in all of its AFM products, and we're happy to extend it's availability and features to more SPM (Scanning Probe Microscopy) users. Gwyddion is useful for all scanning probe microscopy techniques - whether AFM, MFM, STM, SNOM/NSOM - and supports a wide variety of SPM data formats.
Functions included in Gwyddion software:
All the essential processing functions are included in Gwyddion: line leveling, plane leveling,filtering, Fourier transforms and line removal.
Gwyddion's display function options include color mapping, histogram adjustment, 3-D display, and light shading to create dramatic images.
Meaningful data is extracted from the image in the final analysis step. The most common function is measuring a line profile. Other types of analysis include surface texture and grain analysis.
Learning to use Gwyddion's powerful software only takes a few hours; however, mastering the software can, of course, take a few weeks.
AFM and all SPM users can download this free gem of open-source community development at:
http://gwyddion.net. The collective of Gwyddion authors and users has an active list-serve and forum and are always looking for additional scientists and researchers to participate in developing new modules, applications, and features.
Example of images processed and displayed with Gwyddion:
Left: Two dimensional grey scale image of an AFM test pattern showing patches of surface contamination.
Right: Three dimensional color scale image of the AFM test pattern with surface contamination.