World’s First Diamond Nanoprobe Tips Demonstrate Success in Nanomanufacturing

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“Wear‐resistant Diamond Nanoprobe Tips with Integrated Silicon Heater for Tip‐Based Nanomanufacturing,” demonstrates the ability of UNCD® tips integrated with doped silicon atomic force microscope (AFM) cantilevers for use in nanomanufacturing. The initial ultrananocrystalline diamond (UNCD) tip radius can be as small as 15 nm, and retains its shape when scanned for more than a meter at high temperatures and under high loading forces. Silicon tips, frequently used in prototype nanomanufacturing demonstrations, are quickly destroyed under similar conditions. Additionally, silicon tips easily foul, or pick up undesirable material from the scanned surface, while the low stiction properties of diamond avoid fouling.

Next, the researchers will be building and using arrays of these probe tips. “The longevity of these probes allow them to be implemented in massively parallel arrays that could scan over long distances and at high speed,” said Dr. King. “We can now think about using nanoprobe tip arrays to address many square centimeters of surface area. Eventually we’ll go to nanoprobe scans on meter scale.”

ACS Nano – Wear-Resistant Diamond Nanoprobe Tips with Integrated Silicon Heater for Tip-Based Nanomanufacturing

We report exceptional nanoscale wear and fouling resistance of ultrananocrystalline diamond (UNCD) tips integrated with doped silicon atomic force microscope (AFM) cantilevers. The resistively heated probe can reach temperatures above 600 °C. The batch fabrication process produces UNCD tips with radii as small as 15 nm, with average radius 50 nm across the entire wafer. Wear tests were performed on substrates of quartz, silicon carbide, silicon, or UNCD. Tips were scanned for more than 1 m at a scan speed of 25 μm s−1 at temperatures ranging from 25 to 400 °C under loads up to 200 nN. Under these conditions, silicon tips are partially or completely destroyed, while the UNCD tips exhibit little or no wear, no signs of delamination, and exceptional fouling resistance. We demonstrate nanomanufacturing of more than 5000 polymer nanostructures with no deterioration in the tip.

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