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A Piezoresistive Cantilever Force Sensor for Direct AFM Force Calibration



Jon R. Pratt, John A. Kramar, Gordon A. Shaw, Douglas T. Smith, John M. Moreland


We describe the design, fabrication, and calibration testing of a new piezoresistive cantilever force sensor suitable for the force calibration of atomic force microscopes in a range between tens of nanonewtons to hundreds of micronewtons. The sensor is calibrated using the NIST Electrostatic Force Balance (EFB) and functions either as a force reference or stiffness artifact that is traceable to the International System of Units. The cantilever has evenly spaced fiducial marks along its length. We report stiffnesses that vary quadratically with location, from a high of 12.1 N/m at the first fiducial to a low of 0.394 N/m at the last; with force sensitivities that vary linearly, ranging from 18.1 Ω/mN to 106 Ω/mN. We also test the device to transfer the unit of force to an atomic force microscope, finding that force and stiffness based approaches yield independent estimates of the contact force consistent within 2 % of each other.
Proceedings Title
2007 Materials Research Society Spring Meeting
Conference Dates
April 10-12, 2007
Conference Location
San Francisco, CA, USA


AFM force calibration, Atomic force microscopy, Nanomechanical testing, spring constant calibration


Pratt, J. , Kramar, J. , Shaw, G. , Smith, D. and Moreland, J. (2007), A Piezoresistive Cantilever Force Sensor for Direct AFM Force Calibration, 2007 Materials Research Society Spring Meeting, San Francisco, CA, USA, [online], (Accessed May 30, 2024)


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Created April 7, 2007, Updated October 12, 2021