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.
ASJC Scopus subject areas