Field-directed sputter sharpening for tailored probe materials and atomic-scale lithography

S. W. Schmucker, N. Kumar, J. R. Abelson, S. R. Daly, G. S. Girolami, M. R. Bischof, D. L. Jaeger, R. F. Reidy, B. P. Gorman, J. Alexander, J. B. Ballard, J. N. Randall, J. W. Lyding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fabrication of ultrasharp probes is of interest for many applications, including scanning probe microscopy and electron-stimulated patterning of surfaces. These techniques require reproducible ultrasharp metallic tips, yet the efficient and reproducible fabrication of these consumable items has remained an elusive goal. Here we describe a novel biased-probe field-directed sputter sharpening technique applicable to conductive materials, which produces nanometer and sub-nanometer sharp W, Pt-Ir and W-HfB 2 tips able to perform atomic-scale lithography on Si. Compared with traditional probes fabricated by etching or conventional sputter erosion, field-directed sputter sharpened probes have smaller radii and produce lithographic patterns 18-26% sharper with atomic-scale lithographic fidelity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number935
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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