Vibrational shape tracking of atomic force microscopy cantilevers for improved sensitivity and accuracy of nanomechanical measurements.

Research paper by Ryan R Wagner, Jason P JP Killgore, Ryan C RC Tung, Arvind A Raman, Donna C DC Hurley

Indexed on: 06 Jan '15Published on: 06 Jan '15Published in: Nanotechnology


Contact resonance atomic force microscopy (CR-AFM) methods currently utilize the eigenvalues, or resonant frequencies, of an AFM cantilever in contact with a surface to quantify local mechanical properties. However, the cantilever eigenmodes, or vibrational shapes, also depend strongly on tip-sample contact stiffness. In this paper, we evaluate the potential of eigenmode measurements for improved accuracy and sensitivity of CR-AFM. We apply a recently developed, in situ laser scanning method to experimentally measure changes in cantilever eigenmodes as a function of tip-sample stiffness. Regions of maximum sensitivity for eigenvalues and eigenmodes are compared and found to occur at different values of contact stiffness. The results allow the development of practical guidelines for CR-AFM experiments, such as optimum laser spot positioning for different experimental conditions. These experiments provide insight into the complex system dynamics that can affect CR-AFM and lay a foundation for enhanced nanomechanical measurements with CR-AFM.