Hardware for digitally controlled scanned probe microscopes
The design and implementation of a flexible and modular digital control and data acquisition system for scanned probe microscopes (SPMs) is presented. The measured performance of the system shows it to be capable of 14-bit data acquisition at a 100-kHz rate and a full 18-bit output resolution resulting in less than 0.02-Å rms position noise while maintaining a scan range in excess of 1 µm in both the X and Y dimensions. This level of performance achieves the goal of making the noise of the microscope control system an insignificant factor for most experiments. The adaptation of the system to various types of SPM experiments is discussed. Advances in audio electronics and digital signal processors have made the construction of such high performance systems possible at low cost.