Advantages of scanning probe microscopy in polymer science
We introduce the atomic force microscope (AFM) and its capabilities with special regard to its use in polymer science. It shows several advantages over other analytical techniques, such as scanning electron microscopy, differential scanning calorimetry, and dynamic mechanical analysis. Its main advantage is that the samples need not be prepared specially and can therefore be studied in their native environment. Further-more, the AFM can be used to detect physical properties locally on a molecular scale, which may be of interest for characterizing polymer blends or structured polymers.