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Characterizing nanoscale scanning probes using electron microscopy: A novel fixture and a practical guide

Jacobs, Tevis and Wabiszewski, Graham and Goodman, Alexander and Carpick, Robert (2016) Characterizing nanoscale scanning probes using electron microscopy: A novel fixture and a practical guide. Review of Scientific Instruments, 87 (013703).

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The nanoscale geometry of probe tips used for atomic force microscopy (AFM) measurements determines the lateral resolution, contributes to the strength of the tip-surface interaction, and can be a significant source of uncertainty in the quantitative analysis of results. While inverse imaging of the probe tip has been used successfully to determine probe tip geometry, direct observation of the tip profile using electron microscopy (EM) confers several advantages: it provides direct (rather than indirect) imaging, requires fewer algorithmic parameters, and does not require bringing the tip into contact with a sample. In the past, EM-based observation of the probe tip has been achieved using ad hoc mounting methods that are constrained by low throughput, the risk of contamination, and repeatability issues. We report on a probe fixture designed for use in a commercial transmission electron microscope that enables repeatable mounting of multiple AFM probes as well as a reference grid for beam alignment. This communication describes the design, fabrication, and advantages of this probe fixture, including full technical drawings for machining. Further, best practices are discussed for repeatable, non-destructive probe imaging. Finally, examples of the fixture’s use are described, including characterization of common commercial AFM probes in their out-of-the-box condition


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Item Type: Article
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Jacobs, Tevistjacobs@pitt.edutjacobs0000-0001-8576-914X
Carpick, Robertcarpick@seas.upenn.edu0000-0002-3235-3156
Date: 2016
Date Type: Publication
Journal or Publication Title: Review of Scientific Instruments
Volume: 87
Number: 013703
Publisher: AIP Publishing LLC
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1063/1.4937810
Refereed: Yes
Official URL:
Article Type: Research Article
Date Deposited: 28 Jun 2021 15:02
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2021 15:02


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