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Surface Science

Merits of the Kelvin Probes

The Kelvin Probe is one of the most sensitive surface science tools capable of detecting sub-monolayer films coverage.

A non-contact, non-destructive vibrating capacitor device it is used to measure the work function (wf) difference (also referred to as potential contrast image), or for non-metals, the surface potential (sp), between a conducting specimen and a vibrating tip. The Kelvin Probe has undergone a dramatic renaissance in recent years, with highly improved resolution of the instrument while also ensuring that it can be used in a vacuum. KP tips supplied are typically around 2mm to 10mm, while 0.05 mm tips have also been supplied for experienced system users; tip diameter defines the spatial resolution. The Kelvin Probe is a non-invasive technique, yet extremely sensitive to changes in the top-most atomic layers, such as those caused by deposition, absorption, corrosion and atomic displacement. In some cases it can detect less than one-thousandth of an absorbed layer!

KP Technology Systems offers the highest resolution of any current commercial device. The wf resolution of the firm's probes is 1-3 meV.

The list of research area's the Kelvin Probe can be applied to is constantly expanding, some examples include:

  • Adsorption
  • Fermi-level Mapping
  • Pyroelectricity
  • Biotechnology
  • Fuel Cells
  • Semiconductors
  • Charge Analysis
  • Medical Devices
  • Solar Cells
  • Coatings
  • MEMS
  • Surface Contamination
  • Corrosion
  • Nanotechnology
  • Surface Chemistry
  • Display Technology
  • Surface Photovoltage


The work function is an extremely sensitive indicator of surface condition and is affected by adsorbed or evaporated layers, surface reconstruction, surface charging, oxide layer imperfections, surface and bulk contamination, etc.


Testimonial 1 Testimonial 2


Here is a spectrum of dedicated Kelvin Probe systems specially developed for applications in a variety of environments ranging from ambient, controlled atmosphere and relative humidity through to UHV. Client choice of tip sizes, translator movement, port adapters and non-standard mounting angles can be accommodated for.


Ambient          Surface Photovoltage          UHV


KP Technology Product Range





  • UHV Kelvin Probe

    Kelvin Probes - UHV & Atm.

    View the various Kelvin Probe configurations on the KP Technoloy website.


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  • Air Photoemission

    Air Photoemission System

    View how the Air Photoemission System works on the KP Technoloy website.


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  • surface voltage

    Surface Voltage

    View the Surface Voltage Spectroscopy System on the KP Technoloy website.


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