The high sensitivity of scanning probe microscopes poses a barrier to their use in noisy environments. Vibrational noise, whether from structural or acoustic sources, can manifest as relative motion between the probe tip and sample, which then appears in the probe position ("Z") feedback as it tries to cancel this motion. Here we describe an active cancellation process that nullifies the appearance of this vibration by adding a drive signal into the existing Z-feedback loop. The drive is digitally calculated from accelerometer-based vibration measurements. By transferring the vibration cancellation effort to this drive signal, vibration-created noise is significantly reduced. This inexpensive and easy solution requires no major instrumental modifications and is ideal for those looking to place their microscopes in noisier environments, coupled, for example, to active refrigeration systems (e.g., pulse tube cryocoolers) or other high-vibration instruments.
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