High-speed atomic force microscopes (HS-AFMs) with high temporal resolution enable dynamic phenomena to be visualized at nanoscale resolution. However, HS-AFMs are more complex and costlier than conventional AFMs, and particulars of an open-source HS-AFM controller have not been published before. These high entry barriers hinder the popularization of HS-AFMs in both academic and industrial applications. In addition, HS-AFMs generally have a small imaging area that limits the fields of implementation. This study presents an open-source controller that enables a low-cost simplified AFM to achieve a maximum tip-sample velocity of 5,093 µm/s (9.3 s/frame, 512 × 512 pixels), which is nearly 100 times higher than that of the original controller. Moreover, the proposed controller doubles the imaging area to 46.3 × 46.3 µm2 compared to that of the original system. The low-cost HS-AFM can successfully assess the severity of atopic dermatitis (AD) by measuring the nanotexture of human skin corneocytes in constant height DC mode. The open-source controller-based HS-AFM system costs less than $4,000, which provides resource-limited research institutes with affordable access to high-throughput nanoscale imaging to further expand the HS-AFM research community.

This work is published on openaccess HardwareX: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2468067222000864?via%3Dihub