Articles | Volume 1, issue 1
29 Oct 2008
 | 29 Oct 2008

Surface features on Sahara soil dust particles made visible by atomic force microscope (AFM) phase images

G. Helas and M. O. Andreae

Abstract. We show that atomic force microscopy (AFM) phase images can reveal surface features of soil dust particles, which are not evident using other microscopic methods. The non-contact AFM method is able to resolve topographical structures in the nanometer range as well as to uncover repulsive atomic forces and attractive van der Waals' forces, and thus gives insight to surface properties. Though the method does not allow quantitative assignment in terms of chemical compound description, it clearly shows deposits of distinguishable material on the surface. We apply this technique to dust aerosol particles from the Sahara collected over the Atlantic Ocean and describe micro-features on the surfaces of such particles.