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Frequency modulation detection using high‐Q cantilevers for enhanced force microscope sensitivity

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4 Author(s)
Albrecht, T.R. ; IBM Research Division, Almaden Research Center, 650 Harry Road, San Jose, California 95120 ; Grutter, P. ; Horne, D. ; Rugar, D.

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A new frequency modulation (FM) technique has been demonstrated which enhances the sensitivity of attractive mode force microscopy by an order of magnitude or more. Increased sensitivity is made possible by operating in a moderate vacuum (≪10-3 Torr), which increases the Q of the vibrating cantilever. In the FM technique, the cantilever serves as the frequency determining element of an oscillator. Force gradients acting on the cantilever cause instantaneous frequency modulation of the oscillator output, which is demodulated with a FM detector. Unlike conventional ‘‘slope detection,’’ the FM technique offers increased sensitivity through increased Q without restricting system bandwidth. Experimental comparisons of FM detection in vacuum (Q∼50 000) versus slope detection in air (Q∼100) demonstrated an improvement of more than 10 times in sensitivity for a fixed bandwidth. This improvement is evident in images of magnetic transitions on a thin‐film CoPtCr magnetic disk. In the future, the increased sensitivity offered by this technique should extend the range of problems accessible by force microscopy.

Published in:

Journal of Applied Physics  (Volume:69 ,  Issue: 2 )

Date of Publication:

Jan 1991

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