Atomic force microscope (AFM) users often calibrate the spring constants of cantilevers using functionality built into individual instruments. This calibration is performed without reference to a global standard, hindering the robust comparison of force measurements reported by different laboratories. Here, we describe a virtual instrument (an internet-based initiative) whereby users from all laboratories can instantly and quantitatively compare their calibration measurements to those of others-standardising AFM force measurements-and simultaneously enabling non-invasive calibration of AFM cantilevers of any geometry. This global calibration initiative requires no additional instrumentation or data processing on the part of the user. It utilises a single website where users upload currently available data. A proof-of-principle demonstration of this initiative is presented using measured data from five independent laboratories across three countries, which also allows for an assessment of current calibration.
Available for download on Wednesday, September 27, 2017