A microchip microcontroller-based transducer controller for non-contact scanning probe microscopy with phase-locked loop, amplitude, and Q control

Venkat Chandrasekhar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


An inexpensive yet versatile transducer controller for non-contact scanning probe microscopy (SPM) based on a PIC32 microcontroller from Microchip Technology, Inc is described. In addition to feedback control using the amplitude or phase of the signal from the non-contact transducer, the controller includes a phase-locked loop for frequency-shift feedback, as well as fixed-amplitude, quality factor (Q) control, and self-excitation modes. Apart from the input amplifiers, output buffers, and the Q-control circuit, all other functions of the controller are instantiated in software on the microchip, enabling rapid changes in operating parameters if needed. The controller communicates with a host personal computer via a simple serial connection. The controller has been tested with a quartz tuning-fork transducer but can be used with any oscillating non-contact transducer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number023705
JournalReview of Scientific Instruments
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation

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