Dr. Don Chernoff is one of the pioneers in the field of Atomic Force Microscopy(AFM) and related Scanning Probe Microscopy(SPM) technique, including Scanning Tunneling Microscopy(STM). In 1986, he started the STM lab at the Standard Oil (Ohio) Research Center. When the first commercial AFM became available in 1990, this expanded the range of material surfaces that could be examined from electrically conductive surfaces to nearly any surface you can touch. He founded Advanced Surface Microscopy, Inc. (ASM) to provide analytical testing and research services using Atomic Force Microscopy(AFM) and related Scanning Probe Microscopy techniques.
In 1994, he was the first person to recognize that AFM phase imaging provides important and useful contrast between material domains on surfaces, with sensitivity to a single molecular layer. His work has helped to solve many practical problems. This technique became a standard feature in virtually all AFMs.
He invented a process to accurately measure the size, shape, and position of features in AFM and MFM images. This process is in use worldwide. It helped make DVD possible and it supports more than half the world’s production of DVD and Blu-Ray discs. At ASM, he has applied the same process to analyze optical gratings and to provide traceable certification of magnification calibration standards for AFM and SEM.
Earlier, Don worked in laser spectroscopy, optics, and electron microscopy. He has over 40 years of industrial research and engineering experience, including 8 years at BP America/Standard Oil, 2 years at Roche Diagnostics, and, since 1990, at Advanced Surface Microscopy, Inc., where he specializes in practical applications of AFM to solve processing and materials problems. Since 1990, Don and his colleagues have done more than 1500 AFM analysis projects for more than 200 customers involving more than 100 different kinds of materials and devices. Don was educated at the University of Chicago (B.S. Chemistry 1973, Ph.D. Physical Chemistry 1978). He has over 40 publications and 2 patents. Don has been an invited speaker at many national and international conferences, including Nanotech, Replitech, IDEMA hard disk technical conference, Pittcon and American Society of Materials.
Don’s research interests are very broad, being defined only by whether a given material or device can be touched by an AFM probe. For example, he has studied:
- Superpolished surfaces, such as silicon wafers
- Polymers in many different forms
- Nanoparticles on drug microspheres
- Nanoscale drug particles
- DNA and peptide complexes with DNA
- Optical disks
- Magnetic disks and recording heads
- Optical gratings and other patterns that diffract light
- Metrology using the AFM and methods of calibrating AFMs.