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High-speed digitization of the amplitude and frequency in open-loop sideband frequency-modulation Kelvin probe force microscopy



Gheorghe Stan


A more inclusive and detailed measurement of various physical interactions is enabled by the advance of high-speed data digitization. For surface potential characterization, this was demonstrated recently in terms of open-loop amplitude modulation Kelvin probe force microscopy (OL AM-KPFM). Its counterpart, namely open-loop frequency modulation Kelvin probe force microscopy (OL FM-KPFM), is examined here across different materials and under various bias voltages in the form of OL sideband FM-KPFM. In this implementation the changes in the amplitude and resonance frequency of the cantilever were continuously tracked as a conductive AFM probe was modulated by a 2 kHz AC bias voltage around the first eigenmode frequency of the cantilever. The contact potential difference (CPD) between the AFM probe and sample was determined from the time series analysis of the high-speed 4 MHz digitized amplitude and frequency signals of the OL sideband FM-KPFM mode. This interpretation is demonstrated to be superior to the analysis of the parabolic bias dependent response, which is more commonly used to extract the CPD in OL KPFM modes. The measured OL sideband FM-KPFM amplitude and frequency responses are directly related to the electrostatic force and force-gradient between the AFM probe and sample, respectively. As a result, clear distinction was observed for the determined CPD in each of these cases across materials of different surface potentials, with far superior spatial resolution when the force-gradient detection was used. In addition, the CPD values obtained from OL sideband FM-KPFM amplitude and frequency measurements showed perfect match to those determined from their closed-loop AM-KPFM and FM-KPFM counterparts, respectively.


Kelvin probe force microscopy, high-speed digitization, contact potential difference
Created June 5, 2020, Updated August 3, 2020