Calibration of atomic force microscope cantilevers using standard and inverted static methods assisted by FIB-milled spatial markers

Ashley Slattery, Adam Blanch, Jamie Quinton, Christopher Gibson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    31 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Static methods to determine the spring constant of AFM cantilevers have been widely used in the scientific community since the importance of such calibration techniques was established nearly 20 years ago. The most commonly used static techniques involve loading a trial cantilever with a known force by pressing it against a pre-calibrated standard or reference cantilever. These reference cantilever methods have a number of sources of uncertainty, which include the uncertainty in the measured spring constant of the standard cantilever, the exact position of the loading point on the reference cantilever and how closely the spring constant of the trial and reference cantilever match. We present a technique that enables users to minimize these uncertainties by creating spatial markers on reference cantilevers using a focused ion beam (FIB). We demonstrate that by combining FIB spatial markers with an inverted reference cantilever method, AFM cantilevers can be accurately calibrated without the tip of the test cantilever contacting a surface. This work also demonstrates that for V-shaped cantilevers it is possible to determine the precise loading position by AFM imaging the section of the cantilever where the two arms join. Removing tip-to-surface contact in both the reference cantilever method and sensitivity calibration is a significant improvement, since this is an important consideration for AFM users that require the imaging tip to remain in pristine condition before commencing measurements. Uncertainties of between 5 and 10% are routinely achievable with these methods.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number015710
    Pages (from-to)015710-1-015710-13
    Number of pages13
    JournalNanotechnology
    Volume24
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 11 Jan 2013

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