Skip to Main Content
Your organization might have access to this article on the publisher's site. To check, click on this link:http://dx.doi.org/+10.1116/1.585196
Scanning force microscopy (SFM), operated in the attractive imaging mode, enables the precise measurement of the force between tip and sample over a tip–sample distance ranging from contact to tens of nanometers. The basic long range interactions (≫1 nm: i.e., hydrodynamic, electrostatic, van der Waals, and capillary forces) between tip and sample have been measured and will be discussed. Each force leads to a different mode of operation in profiling samples. The most critical part of the SFM is the force sensor. Exact knowledge of the sensor properties is required for the interpretation of SFM measurements. We have used micromachined silicon sensors consisting of a monolithic silicon cantilever with integrated silicon tip and have performed a detailed characterization of the tip geometry and resonance properties. Examples of surface images on different samples (conductors, insulators and biological materials) and structures, ranging from atomic steps up to several microns high features, have been investigated to demonstrate capabilities and problems in SFM imaging.