Direct deformation study of AFM probe tips modified by hydrophobic alkylsilane self-assembled monolayers

Bernard Haochih Liu, Cheng-Hsien Chen
Ultramicroscopy, Volume 111, Issue 8, July 2011

Abstract

The in-use wear of atomic force microscopy (AFM) probe tips is crucial for the reliability of AFM measurements. Increase of tip size for several nanometers is difficult to monitor but it can already taint subsequent AFM data. We have developed a method to study the shape evolution of AFM probe tips in nanometer scale. This approach provides direct comparison of probe shape profiles, and thus can help in evaluation of the level of tip damage and quality of acquired AFM data. Consequently, the shape degradation of probes modified by hydrophobic alkylsilane self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) was studied. The tip wear length and wear volume were adopted to quantitatively verify the effectiveness of hydrophobic coatings. When compared with their silicon counterparts, probes modified by SAM materials exhibit superior wear-resistant behavior in tapping mode scans.

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