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Modeling of Nano/Micro Systems

Lab #9

ME 59700-19
Spring 2015
Professor Hansung Kim

Apr 22, 2015

Suhib A. Makhlouf

Intorduction :
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Gwyddion is a modular program for SPM (scanning probe microscopy) data visualization
and analysis. Primarily it is intended for analysis of height fields obtained by scanning
probe microscopy techniques (AFM, MFM, STM, SNOM/NSOM) and it supports many SPM
data formats. However, it can also be used for general height field and image processing,
for instance for analysis of profilometry data.

AFM provides a 3D profile of the surface on a nanoscale, by measuring forces between a

sharp probe (<10 nm) and surface at very short distance (0.2-10 nm probe-sample
separation). The probe is supported on a flexible cantilever. The AFM tip gently touches
the surface and records the small force between the probe and the surface.
The AFM can be used to study a wide variety of samples (i.e. plastic, metals, glasses,
semiconductors, and biological samples such as the walls of cells and bacteria). Unlike
STM or scanning electron microscopy it does not require a conductive sample. However
there are limitations in achieving atomic resolution. The physical probe used in AFM
imaging is not ideally sharp. As a consequence, an AFM image does not reflect the true
sample topography, but rather represents the interaction of the probe with the sample
surface. This is called tip convolution

Primary Modes of Imaging:

1. Contact Mode AFM: (repulsive VdW) When the spring constant of cantilever is less
than surface, the cantilever bends. The force on the tip is repulsive. By maintaining a
constant cantilever deflection (using the feedback loops) the force between the probe
and the sample remains constant and an image of the surface is obtained. Advantages:
fast scanning, good for rough samples, used in friction analysis Disadvantages: at time
forces can damage/deform soft samples (however imaging in liquids often resolves this
2. Intermittent Mode (Tapping): The imaging is similar to contact. However, in this mode
the cantilever is oscillated at its resonant frequency. The probe lightly taps on the
sample surface during scanning, contacting the surface at the bottom of its swing. By
maintaining constant oscillation amplitude a constant tip-sample interaction is Oscillation
Amplitude: 20-100 nm maintained and an image of the surface is obtained.
Advantages: allows high resolution of samples that are easily damaged and/or loosely
held to a surface; good for biological samples Disadvantages: more challenging to
image in liquids, slower scan speeds needed. Resonant frequency is a natural frequency
of vibration determined by the physical parameters of the vibrating object. For example
if you hit a spring with a mass at the end (probe) the main response will be a bob up and
down at its natural frequency.

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3. Non-contact Mode: (attractive VdW) The probe does not contact the sample surface,
but oscillates above the adsorbed fluid layer on the surface during scanning. (Note: all
samples unless in a controlled UHV or environmental chamber have some liquid
adsorbed on the surface). Using a feedback loop to monitor changes in the amplitude
due to attractive VdW forces the surface topography can be measured. Advantages:
VERY low force exerted on the sample(10-12 N), extended probe lifetime
Disadvantages: generally lower resolution; contaminant layer on surface can interfere
with oscillation; usually need ultra-high vacuum (UHV) to have best imaging

Modes of Operation
There are 3 primary imaging modes in AFM:
(1) Contact AFM
< 0.5 nm probe-surface separation
(2) Intermittent contact (tapping mode AFM)
0.5-2 nm probe-surface separation
(3) Non-contact AFM
0.1-10 nm probe-surface separation

Hertz, JKR and DMT

While Classical Mechanics deals solely with bulk material properties Contact Mechanics
deals with bulk properties that consider surface and geometrical constraints. It is in the
nature of many rheological tools to probe the materials from "outside". For instance, a
probe in the form of a pin in a pin-on-disk tester is brought into contact with the material
of interest, measuring properties such as hardness, wear rates, etc. Geometrical effects
on local elastic deformation properties have been considered as early as 1880 with the
Hertzian Theory of Elastic Deformation. This theory relates the circular contact area of a
sphere with a plane (or more general between two spheres) to the elastic deformation
properties of the materials. In the theory any surface interactions such as near contact
Van der Waals interactions, or contact Adhesive interactions are neglected. An
improvement over the Hertzian theory was provided by Johnson et al. (around 1970) with
the JKR (Johnson, Kendall, Roberts) Theory.In the JKR-Theory the contact is considered to
be adhesive. Hence the theory correlates the contact area to the elastic material
properties plus the interfacial interaction strength. Due to the adhesive contact, contacts
can be formed during the unloading cycle also in the negative loading (pulling) regime.
Such as the Hertzian theory, the JKR solution is also restricted to elastic sphere- sphere
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contacts. A more involved theory (the DMT theory) also considers Van der Waals
interactions outside the elastic contact regime, which give rise to an additional load. The
theory simplifies to Bradley's Van der Waals model if the two surfaces are separated and
significantly apart. In Bradley's model any elastic material deformations due to the effect
of attractive interaction forces are neglected. Bradley's non-contact model and the JKR
contact model are very special limits explained by the Tabor coefficient.

Contact Mechanical Models:

Hertz: fully elastic model,
JKR: fully elastic model considering adhesion in the contact zone,
Bradley purely Van der Waals model with rigid spheres, DMT fully elastic, adhesive and
Van der Waals model.

Difference between models :





No surface forces

Not applied to small loads in the presence of

surface forces


Long-range surface forces act only outside the contact

area. Model geometry is as in the Hertz model


Short-range surface forces act only within the contact area

Tip-sample interface is modeled as a ring.

Contact area can be decreased due to the limited

geometry. Applied only to small
Force magnitude can be decreased due to surface
forces.Applied only to large
The solution is analytical but equations are
parametric. Applied to all


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The primary goal of this lab was to gain experience working with an AFM by measuring a
variety of sources. We measured a step-height standard to get initial experience, and
later returned to that data to correct our CD stamper data. We measured a CD stamper
under the AFM as well as by diffraction. Our diffraction value of 1.58 microns is close to
the accepted value of 1.6 microns. However our AFM measurement was 0.51 microns.
This was most likely due to faulty correction/calibration. Additionally, our calibration
measurement was less than ideal, making it difficult to get an accurate correction. Our
Lycopodium scans produced no meaningful results. For further research, we could
rigorously calibrate the AFM using the step-height standard. Additionally, compressed air
could be used to eliminate excess Lycopodium grains. Improved mounting techniques
would probably be necessary.

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