Asylum Research Introduces Contact Resonance Viscoelastic Mapping Mode: Quantitative Nanomechanical Imaging of Both Elastic and Loss Moduli
12 September 2013

Asylum Research, an Oxford Instruments company, announces Contact Resonance Viscoelastic Mapping Mode, an option available exclusively for Asylum’s Cypher™ and MFP-3D™ Atomic Force Microscopes (AFMs). Contact Resonance (CR) enables high resolution, quantitative imaging of both elastic storage modulus and viscoelastic loss modulus. The technique is particularly well suited for characterizing moderate to high modulus materials in the range of about 1GPa to 200GPA for materials such as composites, thin films, biomaterials, polymer blends, and even ceramics and metals. Exclusive Asylum hardware and software developments have made contact resonance imaging significantly faster, more quantitative, simpler to use, and applicable to a wider range of materials.

“Contact resonance techniques were first developed in the 90s, though until now, only as lab-built implementations. Asylum Research recognized the potential of this technology and focused our resources to provide this capability to our customers,” said Ben Ohler, AFM Business Manager at Asylum Research. “With help from industry-leading collaborators, we dramatically improved its speed, ease of use, and quantitative capabilities. The result of that work is Contact Resonance Viscoelastic Mapping Mode, the very first commercial offering of this technology.”

“An important feature of contact resonance imaging is that it characterizes the full viscoelastic response of materials,“ noted Roger Proksch, President and co-founder of Asylum Research. “Some other nanomechanical imaging techniques only measure the elastic modulus of materials and have no capability to measure the loss modulus. However, both the elastic and dissipative response is critical to the performance of many modern materials. Contact Resonance Viscoelastic Mapping Mode provides a more complete picture which should enable more accurate and more useful insights into how nanomechanical properties influence real-world applications of these materials.”

A number of exclusive Asylum Research technologies enable the superior performance of Contact Resonance Viscoelastic Mapping Mode. Highly damped cantilever and sample actuators were developed for both the MFP-3D and Cypher AFMs to provide exceptionally clean, wideband excitation that makes operation far more robust and accurate. Dual AC™ Resonance Tracking (DART) and Band Excitation electronics make it possible to rapidly measure both the contact resonance frequency and quality factor, providing measures of both the elastic and viscous responses at higher speeds. Finally, exclusive software enables users to select the most appropriate analysis models and easily guides them through the steps required to calibrate the technique. The contact resonance packages are available for both new MFP-3D and Cypher S AFM systems and as upgrades to existing systems.

Contact Resonance Viscoelastic Mapping Mode is just one tool in the Asylum Research NanomechPro™ Toolkit, which includes many techniques for characterizing material properties at the nanoscale. Asylum believes that there’s not just one, best, “one-size-fits-all” approach to nanomechanics. Comparing the results from multiple techniques adds considerable confidence to the measurements and can provide new additional information.

For more information, visit our website at or email us at for a quotation.

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