Nanotechnology Now







Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Microscope probe-sharpening technique improves resolution, durability

Joseph Lyding, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois, led a group that developed a new microscope probe-sharpening technique.
Joseph Lyding, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois, led a group that developed a new microscope probe-sharpening technique.

Abstract:
A simple new improvement to an essential microscope component could greatly improve imaging for researchers who study the very small, from cells to computer chips. Joseph Lyding, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois, led a group that developed a new microscope probe-sharpening technique. The technique is described in research published this week in the journal Nature Communications.

Microscope probe-sharpening technique improves resolution, durability

Champaign, IL | Posted on July 5th, 2012

Scanning probe microscopes provide images of tiny structures with high resolution at the atomic scale. The tip of the probe skims the surface of a sample to measure mechanical, electrical or chemical properties. Such microscopes are widely used among researchers who work with tiny structures in fields from nanotechnology to cellular biology.

Labs can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on an elegant instrument - for example, a scanning tunneling microscope (STM) or an atomic force microscope (AFM) - yet the quality of the data depends on the probe. Probes can degrade rapidly with use, wearing down and losing resolution. In such cases, the researcher then has to stop the scan and replace the tip.

"To put it in perspective, if you had an expensive racecar but you put bicycle tires on it, it wouldn't be a very good car," Lyding said.

To shape tips, researchers shoot a stream of ions at the tip. The material sputters off as the ions collide with the tip, whittling away the probe. One day in the lab, after yet another tip failure, Lyding had the simple, novel idea of applying a matching voltage to the tip to deflect the incoming ions. When a voltage is applied to a sharp object, the electrical field gets stronger as the point narrows. Therefore, ions approaching the sharpest part of the electrified tip are deflected the most.

"This causes the ions to remove the material around that sharp part, not on the sharp part itself, and that makes it sharper," Lyding said. "You preserve the point and you sharpen what's around it."

Lyding and graduate student Scott Schmucker purchased an inexpensive ion gun and tested Lyding's idea. It worked beautifully. STM tips with a starting radius of 100 nanometers were honed to a sharp 1-nanometer point, yielding extremely high resolution. In addition, the sputtering process works with any electrically conductive material.

But once the probes are ultra-sharp, what's to keep them from wearing down just as quickly as other probes? Lyding and Schmucker then teamed with U. of I. chemistry professor Gregory Girolami and materials science and engineering professor John Abelson, whose groups had demonstrated coatings for silicon semiconductors made of a material called hafnium diboride. The coatings are 10 times harder than the metal usually used to make STM tips, but are also metallic - the key property for the ion-sputtering process.

The group applied the hafnium diboride coatings to their probes, sputtered them further, and found that the resulting probes are stable, durable and excel in the types of microscopy and patterning applications for which such tips are used.

"Nobody else makes probes with the combination of sharp, hard and metallic conduction," said Lyding, who is also affiliated with the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the U. of I. "You can find one or the other but not all three. There's a tremendous demand for that."

The researchers now are moving to commercialize their tough, sharp probes. They received a patent and started a company called Tiptek to begin manufacture. They are also expanding their sharpening technique to include AFM probes as well as STM, and are developing batch-processing techniques for higher throughput.

"When people make AFM tips they make them on wafers, hundreds of tips at a time," said Lyding. "The methodology that we're developing lets us process this entire wafer as a unit so all 400 tips would be done at the same time."

The Office of Naval Research, the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency and the National Science Foundation supported this work.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Liz Ahlberg
Physical Sciences Editor
217-244-1073


Joe Lyding
217-333-8370

Copyright © University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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 Links

The paper, “Field-directed Sputter Sharpening for Tailored Probe Materials and Atomic-scale Lithography,” is available online:

Related News Press

News and information

Evidence mounts for quantum criticality theory: Findings bolster theory that quantum fluctuations drive strange electronic phenomena January 30th, 2015

Everything You Need To Know About Nanopesticides January 30th, 2015

DNA nanoswitches reveal how life's molecules connect: An accessible new way to study molecular interactions could lower cost and time associated with discovering new drugs January 30th, 2015

Crystal light: New light-converting materials point to cheaper, more efficient solar power: University of Toronto engineers study first single crystal perovskites for new solar cell and LED applications January 30th, 2015

Park Systems Announces Innovations in Bio Cell Analysis with the Launch of Park NX-Bio, the only 3-in-1 Imaging Nanoscale Tool Available for Life Science Researchers January 29th, 2015

Videos/Movies

Los Alamos Develops New Technique for Growing High-Efficiency Perovskite Solar Cells: Researchers’ crystal-production insights resolve manufacturing difficulty January 29th, 2015

'Bulletproof' battery: Kevlar membrane for safer, thinner lithium rechargeables January 28th, 2015

Imaging

Park Systems Announces Innovations in Bio Cell Analysis with the Launch of Park NX-Bio, the only 3-in-1 Imaging Nanoscale Tool Available for Life Science Researchers January 29th, 2015

2015 Nanonics Image Contest January 29th, 2015

JPK opens new expanded offices in Berlin to meet the growing demand for products worldwide January 28th, 2015

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Evidence mounts for quantum criticality theory: Findings bolster theory that quantum fluctuations drive strange electronic phenomena January 30th, 2015

Nanoscale Mirrored Cavities Amplify, Connect Quantum Memories: Advance could lead to quantum computing and the secure transfer of information over long-distance fiber optic networks January 28th, 2015

Detecting chemical weapons with a color-changing film January 28th, 2015

'Bulletproof' battery: Kevlar membrane for safer, thinner lithium rechargeables January 28th, 2015

Discoveries

Evidence mounts for quantum criticality theory: Findings bolster theory that quantum fluctuations drive strange electronic phenomena January 30th, 2015

Everything You Need To Know About Nanopesticides January 30th, 2015

DNA nanoswitches reveal how life's molecules connect: An accessible new way to study molecular interactions could lower cost and time associated with discovering new drugs January 30th, 2015

Crystal light: New light-converting materials point to cheaper, more efficient solar power: University of Toronto engineers study first single crystal perovskites for new solar cell and LED applications January 30th, 2015

Announcements

Evidence mounts for quantum criticality theory: Findings bolster theory that quantum fluctuations drive strange electronic phenomena January 30th, 2015

Everything You Need To Know About Nanopesticides January 30th, 2015

DNA nanoswitches reveal how life's molecules connect: An accessible new way to study molecular interactions could lower cost and time associated with discovering new drugs January 30th, 2015

Crystal light: New light-converting materials point to cheaper, more efficient solar power: University of Toronto engineers study first single crystal perovskites for new solar cell and LED applications January 30th, 2015

Tools

Hiden Gas Analysers at PITTCON 2015 | Visit us on Booth No. 1127 January 29th, 2015

Advantest to Exhibit at SEMICON Korea in Seoul, South Korea February 4-6 Showcasing Broad Portfolio of Semiconductor Products, Technologies and Solutions January 29th, 2015

Park Systems Announces Innovations in Bio Cell Analysis with the Launch of Park NX-Bio, the only 3-in-1 Imaging Nanoscale Tool Available for Life Science Researchers January 29th, 2015

2015 Nanonics Image Contest January 29th, 2015

Military

Detecting chemical weapons with a color-changing film January 28th, 2015

'Bulletproof' battery: Kevlar membrane for safer, thinner lithium rechargeables January 28th, 2015

Detection of Heavy Metals in Samples with Naked Eye January 26th, 2015

The latest fashion: Graphene edges can be tailor-made: Rice University theory shows it should be possible to tune material's properties January 24th, 2015

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







© Copyright 1999-2015 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE