Optical Sensing Limits in Contact and Bending Mode Atomic Force Microscopy

Research paper by T. W. Ng, S. Thirunavukkarasu

Indexed on: 09 Mar '07Published on: 09 Mar '07Published in: Experimental mechanics


Interferometry and optical deflection offers the best force sensing accuracy using standard cantilever probes in atomic force microscopy. Here, we examine the mechanics of cantilever deformation in the bending and contact mode and the optical sensing principles involved. Under typical conditions, the optical deflection method was found to require displacement measurements that were a thousand times less accurate in order to sense the same amount of force as compared with interferometry used in the regular mode. It also allowed better positioning tolerance for the probe beam in order to retain a high level of accuracy in force sensing. These and other attendant findings serve to provide a clearer outlook for the development of improved accuracy sensors in atomic force microscopy in the contact and bending mode.