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Influence of Tip Wear on Atomic Force Acoustic Microscopy Experiments



Malgorzata Kopycinska-Mueller, Roy H. Geiss, Paul Rice, Donna C. Hurley


Tip wear and its corresponding change in geometry is a major impediment for quantifying atomic force acoustic microscopy (AFAM). To better understand the process of tip wear and its influence on AFAM measurements of material elastic properties, we have performed a series of experiments and compared tip geometries calculated from experimental data with direct tip visualization in the scanning electron microscope (SEM). Using a sample with known elastic properties, the tip-sample contact stiffnesses for several different cantilevers were determined. Hertz and Derjaguin-M¿ller-Toporov (DMT) contact-mechanics models were applied to calculate values of the tip radius R from the experimental data. At the same time, values for R before and after each sequence of AFAM measurements were obtained from SEM images. Both methods showed that the tip radius increased with use. However, values of R calculated with the theoretical models varied indeterminately from those obtained from the SEM images. In addition, in some cases analysis of the AFAM measurements suggested a hemispherical tip, while the corresponding SEM images showed that the end of the tip was flat. We also observed other changes in tip shape, such as an increase in the tip width. By combining theoretical models for contact mechanics with visual information on the tip geometry we hope to better understand contact characteristic in AFM-based systems. Contribution of NIST, an agency of the US government; not subject to copyright.
Proceedings Title
Proc. Materials Research Society Conf.
Conference Dates
November 29-December 3, 2004
Conference Location
Boston, MA, USA
Conference Title
Mater. Res. Soc. Conf.


AFAM, SEM, tip wear


Kopycinska-Mueller, M. , Geiss, R. , Rice, P. and Hurley, D. (2005), Influence of Tip Wear on Atomic Force Acoustic Microscopy Experiments, Proc. Materials Research Society Conf., Boston, MA, USA, [online], (Accessed April 23, 2024)
Created January 30, 2005, Updated October 12, 2021