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Instability induced tunneling and repeatable charge injection to SiO2 surfaces by electrostatic force microscopy

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The dynamic response and stability of a voltage biased oscillating cantilever in the proximity of an insulating sample surface is investigated. As the tip approaches the sample surface, the cantilever can jump between two different oscillation modes. The jump is detected as an abrupt increase in the amplitude. This abrupt increase in amplitude can bring the tip into tunneling range of the sample surface and electrons can tunnel between the metallic tip and insulator surface. The electron tunneling decreases the electrostatic force and force gradient sensed by the cantilever. These changes reduce the oscillation amplitude, causing the cantilever to return to the original oscillation mode. The tunneling of tens of electrons from a metallic tip to a SiO2 surface is detected by measuring the electrostatic force between the tip and the sample. Manipulation of a small number of electrons can be achieved by changing the polarity of the voltage applied, allowing the injection and extraction of electrons to and from an insulator surface.

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Journal of Applied Physics  (Volume:96 ,  Issue: 6 )