Los Alamos National Labs with logo 2021

Physical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy

We perform basic and applied research in support of the Laboratory’s national security mission and serve a range of customers

Contact Us  

  • Group Leader (Acting)
  • Harshini Mukundan
  • Deputy Group Leader (Acting)
  • Kristy Nowak-Lovato
  • Group Office
  • (505) 667-7121
Anasys Instruments nanoIR2-s Atomic Force Microscopy/Infrared Spectroscopy system (AFM-IR)

Last fall, C-PCS installed an Anasys Instruments nanoIR2-s Atomic Force Microscopy/Infrared Spectroscopy system (AFM-IR) in the Chemical Microscopy Center.

We work with customers to execute research projects

The Physical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy (C-PCS) Group addresses national and international problems by exploiting the measurement and diagnostic power of light.

Our research projects span basic R&D and device creation through application and deployment of systems and methods for applied missions.


  • Chemistry for Biomedical Applications
  • Nanotechnology and Advanced Spectroscopy
  • Remote Sensing Applications
  • Terrestrial, Atmospheric, and Space Science
  • Thermal Kinetics and Dynamics (TKD)
New Infrared Imaging Capability

Anasys Instruments nanoIR2-s Atomic Force Microscopy/Infrared Spectroscopy system (AFM-IR)

The automatic force microscope (AFM) research community has developed a universe of distinct imaging techniques that provide extremely high resolution material contrast. Among these, automatic force microscope infrared spectroscopy (AFM-IR) is the first technique that provides chemical characterization for large classes of samples and can enable the analysis of chemical contrast in the nanometer (nm) spatial regime.

AFM-IR works by illuminating a sample with pulses of infrared radiation, then using the oscillating tip of an AFM to detect the absorbed radiation. Specifically, infrared light, if absorbed by the sample, causes a rapid thermal expansion directly under the AFM tip. This, in turn, alters the resonant oscillation of the AFM cantilever.

An AFM-IR absorption spectrum is created by using a tunable, monochromatic infrared light source and measuring the cantilever oscillation amplitude as a function of the wavelength. The resulting spectrum has the same peak centers, widths and relative intensities as far field infrared absorption, so that the spectra can be compared to traditional spectral libraries.

A variety of imaging modalities are available, including traditional AFM, point nm-scale sampling infrared spectra, AFM-IR imaging using contrast at different frequencies, and full AFM-IR hyperspectral imaging.