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Atomic Force Acoustic Microscopy Methods to Determine Thin-Film Elastic Properties



Donna C. Hurley, K Shen, N Jennett, J Turner


We discuss atomic force acoustic microscopy (AFAM) methods to determine quantitative values for the elasticproperties of thin films. The AFAM approach measures the frequencies of an AFM cantilever's first two flexural resonances while in contact with a material. The indentation modulus M of an unknown or test material can be obtained by comparing the resonant spectrum of the test material to that of a reference material. We examined a niobium film (d=280 30 nm) with AFAM using two separate reference materials and two different cantilever geometries. Data were analyzed by two methods: an analytical model based on conventional beam dynamics and a new finite element method that accommodated variable cantilever cross-section and viscous damping. AFAM values of M varied significantly depending on the specific experimental configuration and analysis technique. By averaging values obtained with both reference materials, very good agreement (5-10% difference) with values determined by other methods was achieved. These results provide insight into using AFAM methods to attain reliable, accurate measurements of elastic properties on the nanoscale.
Journal of Applied Physics
No. 4


atomic force microscopy, elastic properties, thin films


Hurley, D. , Shen, K. , Jennett, N. and Turner, J. (2003), Atomic Force Acoustic Microscopy Methods to Determine Thin-Film Elastic Properties, Journal of Applied Physics, [online], (Accessed April 19, 2024)
Created August 1, 2003, Updated February 19, 2017