In atomic force microscopy (AFM) the accuracy of data is often limited by the tip geometry and the effect on this geometry of wear. One way to improve the tip geometry is to attach carbon nanotubes (CNT) to AFM tips. CNTs are ideal because they have a small diameter (typically between 1 and 20 nm), high aspect ratio, high strength, good conductivity, and almost no wear. A number of methods for CNT attachment have been proposed and explored including chemical vapour deposition (CVD), dielectrophoresis, arc discharge and mechanical attachment. In this work we will use CVD to deposit nanotubes onto a silicon surface and then investigate improved methods to pick-up and attach CNTs to tapping mode probes. Conventional pick-up methods involve using standard tapping mode or non-contact mode so as to attach only those CNTs that are aligned vertically on the surface. We have developed improved methods to attach CNTs using contact mode and reduced set-point tapping mode imaging. Using these techniques the AFM tip is in contact with a greater number of CNTs and the rate and stability of CNT pick-up is improved. The presence of CNTs on the modified AFM tips was confirmed by high-resolution AFM imaging, analysis of the tips dynamic force curves and scanning electron microscopy (SEM).
- Carbon nanotubes
- Tapping mode