AFM tips

AFM tips

Atomic force microscopy (AFM) is one of the most powerful techniques for nanoscale characterization of materials surfaces. AFM makes use of a cantilever with a sharp tip (probe) at the end. When brought in close proximity of a surface, the cantilever bends in response to van der Waals interactions between the tip and the sample. Currently, most AFM tips are made of silicon or silicon nitride and have a tip radius of a few nanometers, allowing evaluation of the structural morphology of a materials surface with nanoscale accuracy.

By modifying AFM tips with a molecular nanocoating with specific chemical functionality (inter)molecular interactions can be probed and chemical information of a materials surface can be obtained, an approach known as chemical force microscopy (CFM). Typically surface modification on AFM tips is done with thiol based monolayer on gold-coated tips. However, because the initial chromium/gold layer is at least tens of nanometers, the tip radii are in the range of 40-100 nm, considerably reducing the resolution of CFM imaging. As a result, surface modification of the native oxide covered AFM tips with silane based monolayers has gained interest, however, here multilayer and cluster deposition leads to serious reproducibility issues.

Via our proprietary surface modification technology AFM tips can be modified with robust, functional and reproducible molecular coatings, without any tip enlargement or loss of resolution.



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