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Cleaning and Hydrophilization of Atomic Force Microscopy Silicon Probes

Domenii publicaţii > Fizica + Tipuri publicaţii > Articol în revistã ştiinţificã

Autori: L. Sirghi, O. Kylian, D. Gilliland, G. Ceccone, and F. Rossi

Editorial: J. Phys. Chem. B, 110, p.25975, 2006.


The silicon surface of commercial atomic force microscopy (AFM) probes loses its hydrophilicity by adsorption of airborne and package-released hydrophobic organic contaminants. Cleaning of the probes by acid piranha solution or discharge plasma removes the contaminants and renders very hydrophilic probe surfaces. Timeof-flight secondary-ion mass spectroscopy and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy investigations showed that the native silicon oxide films on the AFM probe surfaces are completely covered by organic contaminants for the as-received AFM probes, while the cleaning methods effectively remove much of the hydrocarbons and silicon oils to reveal the underlying oxidized silicon of the probes. Cleaning procedures drastically affect the results of adhesive force measurements in water and air. Thus, cleaning of silicon surfaces of the AFM probe and sample cancelled the adhesive force in deionized water. The significant adhesive force values observed before cleaning can be attributed to formation of a bridge of hydrophobic material at the AFM tip-sample contact in water. On the other hand, cleaning of the AFM tip and sample surfaces results in a significant increase of the adhesive force in air. The presence of water soluble contaminants at the tipsample contact lowers the capillary pressure in the water bridge formed by capillary condensation at the AFM tip-sample contact, and this consequently lowers the adhesive force.

Cuvinte cheie: hydrophilicity, airborn contamination, cleaning AFM cantilivers, plasma cleaning