Looking for a good AFM/SPM conference?

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As summer draws to a close, the fall conference season swings into action.  A lot of people have asked me over the years, “what are the good AFM conferences”?  Either to learn about the technique, meet some of the main players in field, see the latest and greatest from the vendors, or to present your own research, conferences still play an essential role to scientists in the field.  Different AFM symposia have entered and left the conference track over the years.  I provide just a snapshot of some of the “main” AFM conferences available in the upcoming academic year.

MRS, Fall meeting, Boston, December 2017. The annual fall meeting of the MRS has basically become the main US-based AFM conference. Typically, a full 5-day symposium is planned on topics that are a variation of a theme of “Advances in AFM technology”.  Sometimes there is even a Sunday short course accompanying the symposium and many of the main vendors associated with AFM hardware, probes, and software exhibit at the meeting as well. So if you are looking for a single AFM-based conference to attend, I would put this one high on the list.   This year the topic is “multifunctional and multifrequency scanning probe microscopy” (symposium TC01), which is a multi-mouthful.  But it promises to have a week-long showcase of the latest and greatest in AFM technology and capabilities both through symposium and exhibit floor.

Non-contact AFM.  This more focused, international conference rotates between continents every year that dates back to 1998.  Although the title is “non-contact AFM”, as was the original conception of this conference, it now includes most standard imaging modes and provides a dedicated AFM conference with a single symposium track (so everyone hears the same talks), which can provide a nice, intimate setting to discuss research and get to know other attendees.  This year it will take place at the end of September in Suzhou, China

Multifrequency AFM conference.  This is another focused AFM conference really specializing in multifrequency methods, an area of recent advances and growth.  This conference takes place in Madrid every 18-24 months, when the first one take place in 2007.  It is organized by Professor Ricardo Garcia of CSIC in Madrid.  This is also a single track conference so that everyone hears the same talks.  With an audience of about 100 people, there is again the added benefit of an intimate setting for research discussions and getting to know other attendees.

SPM on SPM.  This AFM conference is focused on an application area of soft and polymeric materials instead of a technique or mode.  It is a biennial conference so look for it in 2018. Last year it took place at the end of August in China. Details for the 2018 meeting have yet to be released.

OF course, AFM being a versatile microscopy method with application to almost all areas of chemistry, biology, physics, and engineering, it has a presence at all the national society meetings in these areas (ACS, APS).  The biophysical society meeting (February 2018) typically also has a good representation of AFM talks. Interestingly, a main US meeting on microscopy that a lot of readers of this journal attend, Microscopy and Microanalysis meeting, does not have a good AFM/SPM content. This meeting remains the purview of electron and optical microscopy.  Still, there are plenty of good options to get exposure to the AFM/SPM field!


Dalia Yablon, Ph.D.

SurfaceChar LLC


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