Conductive atomic force microscopy (CAFM) is a powerful technique to investigate electrical and mechanical properties of materials and devices at the nanoscale. However, its main challenge is the reliability of the probe tips and their interaction with the samples. The most common probe tips used in CAFM studies are made of Si coated with a thin (∼20 nm) film of Pt or Pt-rich alloys (such as Pt/Ir), but this can degrade fast due to high current densities (>102A/cm2) and mechanical frictions. Si tips coated with doped diamond and solid doped diamond tips are more durable, but they are significantly more expensive and their high stiffness often damages the surface of most samples. One growing alternative is to use solid Pt tips, which have an intermediate price and are expected to be more durable than metal-coated silicon tips. However, a thorough characterization of the performance of solid Pt probes for CAFM research has never been reported. In this article, we characterize the performance of solid Pt probes for nanoelectronics research by performing various types of experiments and compare them to Pt/Ir-coated Si probes. Our results indicate that solid Pt probes exhibit a lateral resolution that is very similar to that of Pt/Ir-coated Si probes but with the big advantage of a much longer lifetime. Moreover, the probe-to-probe deviation of the electrical data collected is small. The use of solid Pt probes can help researchers to enhance the reliability of their CAFM experiments.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Materials Science(all)