Extremely sharp carbon nanocone probes for atomic force microscopy imaging

I. Chen Chen, Li Han Chen, Xiang Rong Ye, Chiara Daraio, Sungho Jin, Christine A. Orme, Arjan Quist, Ratnesh Lal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


A simple and reliable catalyst patterning technique combined with electric-field-guided growth is utilized to synthesize a sharp and high-aspect-ratio carbon nanocone probe on a tipless cantilever for atomic force microscopy. A single carbon nanodot produced by an electron-beam-induced deposition serves as a convenient chemical etch mask for catalyst patterning, thus eliminating the need for complicated, resist-based, electron-beam lithography for a nanoprobe fabrication. A gradual, sputtering-induced size reduction and eventual removal of the catalyst particle at the probe tip during electric-field-guided growth creates a sharp probe with a tip radius of only a few nanometers. These fabrication processes are amenable for the wafer-scale synthesis of multiple probes. High resolution imaging of three-dimensional features and deep trenches, and mechanical durability enabling continuous operation for many hours without noticeable image deterioration have been demonstrated.

Original languageEnglish
Article number153102
JournalApplied Physics Letters
Issue number15
StatePublished - 10 Apr 2006


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