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An atomic force microscope operating in contact mode is used in this letter for probing the adhesive forces at the apex of a silicon nanotip with typical radius smaller than 15 nm, fabricated using a combination of high-resolution electron beam lithography and plasma dry etching. The amplitude of the forces is deduced from force versus distance curve measurements. By determining the contact point and the pull-off force from the force curves, the surface topography and the adhesive forces are simultaneously obtained at various locations on the surface. This letter reports both measurements and modeling of adhesive forces versus the contact point on the nanotip. As the nanotip is sharper and has a smaller aperture angle than the employed atomic force microscope tip, the measurements are focused on the nanotip apex. © 2002 American Institute of Physics.
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