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Scanning surface potential microscopy (SSPM) is one of the most widely used techniques for the characterization of electrical properties at small dimensions. Applicability of SSPM and related electrostatic scanning probe microscopies for imaging of potential distributions in active micro- and nanoelectronic devices requires quantitative knowledge of tip–surface contrast transfer. Here we demonstrate the utility of carbon-nanotube-based circuits to characterize geometric properties of the tip in the electrostatic scanning probe microscopies. Based on experimental observations, an analytical form for the differential tip–surface capacitance is obtained. © 2002 American Institute of Physics.
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