Development of a flexure-based nano-actuator for high-frequency high-resolution directional sensing with atomic force microscopy

Amir Farokh Payam, Luca Piantanida, Kislon Voitchovsky

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Scanning probe microscopies typically rely on the high-precision positioning of a nanoscale probe in order to gain local information about the properties of a sample. At a given location, the probe is used to interrogate a minute region of the sample, often relying on dynamical sensing for improved accuracy. This is the case for most force-based measurements in atomic force microscopy (AFM) where sensing occurs with a tip oscillating vertically, typically in the kHz to MHz frequency regime. While this approach is ideal for many applications, restricting dynamical sensing to only one direction (vertical) can become a serious limitation when aiming to quantify the properties of inherently three-dimensional systems, such as a liquid near a wall. Here, we present the design, fabrication, and calibration of a miniature high-speed scanner able to apply controlled fast and directional in-plane vibrations with sub-nanometer precision. The scanner has a resonance frequency of ∼35 kHz and is used in conjunction with a traditional AFM to augment the measurement capabilities. We illustrate its capabilities at a solid-liquid interface where we use it to quantify the preferred lateral flow direction of the liquid around every sample location. The AFM can simultaneously acquire high-resolution images of the interface, which can be superimposed with the directional measurements. Examples of sub-nanometer measurements conducted with the new scanner are also presented.

Original languageEnglish
Article number093703
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages14
JournalReview of Scientific Instruments
Issue number9
Early online date21 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished online - 21 Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (Grant No. BB/M024830/1) and the Royal Society (Grant No. RG2014R2). The authors are grateful to Dr. Ethan Miller and Dr. William Trewby for help with ANYSIS. There are no conflicts of interest to declare.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Author(s).


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