This article describes tapping mode atomic force microscopy (AFM) using a heated AFM cantilever. The electrical and thermal responses of the cantilever were investigated while the cantilever oscillated in free space or was in intermittent contact with a surface. The cantilever oscillates at its mechanical resonant frequency, 70.36 kHz, which is much faster than its thermal time constant of 300 μs, and so the cantilever operates in thermal steady state. The thermal impedance between the cantilever heater and the sample was measured through the cantilever temperature signal. Topographical imaging was performed on silicon calibration gratings of height 20 and 100 nm. The obtained topography sensitivity is as high as 200 μVnm and the resolution is as good as 0.5 nm Hz12, depending on the cantilever power. The cantilever heating power ranges 0-7 mW, which corresponds to a temperature range of 25-700 °C. The imaging was performed entirely using the cantilever thermal signal and no laser or other optics was required. As in conventional AFM, the tapping mode operation demonstrated here can suppress imaging artifacts and enable imaging of soft samples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number043709
JournalReview of Scientific Instruments
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation


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