Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Tough new probe developed for nanotechnologists

Abstract:
Microfabrication of monolithic ultra-nano-crystalline diamond

Tough new probe developed for nanotechnologists

Evanston, IL | August 09, 2005

Since the invention of the atomic force microscope (AFM) in 1986 by Nobel laureate Gerd Binnig, the tool has been employed to advance the science of materials in many ways, from nanopatterning (dip-pen nanolithography) to the imaging of surfaces and nano-objects such as carbon nanotubes, DNA, proteins and cells. In all these applications, the quality and integrity of the tip used to obtain the images or interrogate materials is paramount.

A common problem in atomic force microscopy is the deterioration of the tip apex as surfaces are scanned. To overcome this problem, a team of scientists from Northwestern University and Argonne National Laboratory report the microfabrication of monolithic ultra-nano-crystalline diamond (UNCD) cantilevers with tips exhibiting properties similar to single-crystal diamond. Their results are published in the Aug. 9 issue of Small, a journal dedicated to breakthroughs in nanoscience and engineering (link).

Diamond, the hardest known material, is probably the optimal tip material for many applications. In addition to hardness, diamond is stiff, biocompatible and wear resistant. Until now, commercially available diamond AFM tips are either glued to a microcantilever (a very slow and non-scalable manufacturing approach) or made by coating a silicon tip manufactured using conventional microfabrication techniques. Chemical vapor deposition (CVD) techniques for growing thin films of synthetic diamond typically do not produce single-crystal films, in which atoms are all oriented in a regular lattice. UNCD, a material discovered at Argonne in the 1990s, is the closest diamond atomic structure in which the material is organized in very small grains (a few nanometers in size) leading to smooth surfaces easy to mold and shape by microfabrication techniques. The similarity of UNCD to single-crystal diamond and its superiority to silicon, silicon carbide and other micro- and nanoelectromechanical systems (MEMS and NEMS) materials, in the context of strength, toughness and wear performance, has been established.

The standard MEMS microfabrication techniques used for the diamond tips -- an important feature of this development -- provides scalability to massively parallel arrays of probes for high throughput.

“This technology offers tremendous potential for the large-scale production of single- and two-dimensional tip arrays of doped and undoped diamond exhibiting superior wear resistance and functionality,” said team leader, Horacio D. Espinosa, professor of mechanical engineering at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. “The approach can be easily integrated with the AFM Nanofountain Probe (NFP) recently developed by our group and, in this way, achieve the merging of two unique technologies.

“The demonstrated low wear and writing capability of UNCD tips with chemical inks is very promising. Moreover, the possibility of doping the material to make it conductive is very exciting and opens a large number of opportunities for scientific discovery. We believe the processing technology will likely lead to many novel applications not only in AFM tips but also in MEMS and NEMS.”

Potential products range from single UNCD AFM tips for use in commercial AFMs to massively parallel probe systems for high-throughput scanning and nanoscale manufacture. The technology can be employed for a variety of AFM scanning modes, from regular surface scanning in air or fluids to conductive AFM. It can also be employed as a nanofabrication tool. Examples include nanolithography (inorganic ink dispensing), detecting and repairing failure of micro- and nano- electronic devices, nanopatterning of biomolecules (for sequencing, synthesis and drug discovery) and scanning probe electrochemistry (scanning electrode imaging, localized electrochemical etching or deposition of materials and nanovoltametry).

Potential markets include those industries where it is pivotal to preserve the performance of the tips or that require two-dimensional arrays for high throughput in which the cost of manufacturing is such that minimum possible tip wear is paramount. Examples include the microelectronics industry (novel random-access memories based on AFM technology, such as IBM’s Millipede), the semiconductor industry (photomask repair) and the chemical and biological sensor industry where high throughput and spatial resolution are important.

Northwestern is seeking a licensing partner to commercialize the microfabrication processes and methods to produce arrays of the device. A patent application has been filed by the University.

In addition to Espinosa, other authors on the Small paper are graduate student Keun-Ho Kim and research assistant professor Nicolaie A. Moldovan from Northwestern and post-doctoral fellow Xingcheng Xiao and research scientists John Carlisle and Orlando Auciello from Argonne National Laboratory (ANL). This research has been supported in part by the National Science Foundation through two initiatives: Nanoscale Interdisciplinary Research Team Award No. CMS00304472 and Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center Award No. EEC­0118025. The ANL team effort has been supported by the Department of Energy’s Office of Science under Award No. W-31-109-ENG-38.

####
Contact:
Megan Fellman
(847) 491-3115
fellman@northwestern.edu

Source contact:
Horacio Espinosa
847-467-5989
espinosa@northwestern.edu

Copyright © Northwestern University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

Possible Futures

Long nanotubes make strong fibers: Rice University researchers advance characterization, purification of nanotube wires and films October 17th, 2017

Spinning strands hint at folding dynamics: Rice University lab uses magnetic beads to model microscopic proteins, polymers October 17th, 2017

Rice U. study: Vibrating nanoparticles interact: Placing nanodisks in groups can change their vibrational frequencies October 16th, 2017

Spin current detection in quantum materials unlocks potential for alternative electronics October 15th, 2017

Announcements

Long nanotubes make strong fibers: Rice University researchers advance characterization, purification of nanotube wires and films October 17th, 2017

Spinning strands hint at folding dynamics: Rice University lab uses magnetic beads to model microscopic proteins, polymers October 17th, 2017

Rice U. study: Vibrating nanoparticles interact: Placing nanodisks in groups can change their vibrational frequencies October 16th, 2017

Spin current detection in quantum materials unlocks potential for alternative electronics October 15th, 2017

Tools

Nanometrics Announces Preliminary Results for the Third Quarter of 2017: Quarterly Results Impacted by Delays in Revenue Recognition on Multiple Systems into Japan October 12th, 2017

Seeing the next dimension of computer chips: Researchers image perfectly smooth side-surfaces of 3-D silicon crystals with a scanning tunneling microscope, paving the way for smaller and faster computing devices October 11th, 2017

Quorum announces new customer support and demonstration facilities for users worldwide October 10th, 2017

Graphene forged into three-dimensional shapes September 26th, 2017

Patents/IP/Tech Transfer/Licensing

Nanoparticles limit damage in spinal cord injury: Injection after an injury reduces inflammation and scarring September 6th, 2017

More durable, less expensive fuel cells: University of Delaware researchers have developed a new technology that could speed up the commercialization of fuel cell vehicles September 5th, 2017

Argonne National Laboratory’s Continuous ALD Technology Licensed Exclusively to Forge Nano July 7th, 2017

Aculon Expands NanoProof® Product Line for Electronics Waterproofing Technology: With growing market opportunities Aculon Launches NanoProof® 8 with Push Through Connectivity™ and NanoProof® DAB a syringe application May 30th, 2017

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project