Cantilever and tip design for modified lateral force microscopy

2019-08-16T15:54:29Z (GMT) by Mengying Wang
The atomic force microscopy (AFM) has been widely used for the investigation of the surface topography and high precision force measurements at the nano-scale. Researchers have utilized AFM to quantify the viscosity of the cell membrane in the vertical direction, which is a primary indicator of a cell's functionality and health condition. A modified lateral force microscopy (LFM) to quantify viscosity through lateral force measurements applied on the sidewall of cell membranes. The resulting twist of the cantilever in mLFM is induced by the contact between sidewalls of the tip and features on the sample. However, the measurement sensitivity of the mLFM requires improvement. This thesis focused on optimizing probe geometries and materials to improve the measurement sensitivity.
Probes (cantilevers and tips) with different geometries and materials properties were proposed and their deformations in the mLFM force measurement were studied. The force measurement process, in which the tip contacted the sidewall of control samples, including a hard sample and a soft sample, was modeled by finite element analysis (FEA). This study calculated torsional spring constants and measurement sensitivities according to the data produced from FEA. The impact of various geometric parameters on the torsional spring constant and measurement sensitivity were presented and discussed. The optimal probe configuration and material for measurement sensitivity was found from the parameters tested in this research. For the hard sample, the cantilever with a "T-shape" cross section and a tetrahedral tip made from graphite had optimum measurement sensitivity. For the soft sample, the cantilever with a "T-shape" cross section and a conical tip with a 600nm-radius sphere tip apex had the optimum measurement sensitivity. The reason for the difference in optimum probe combination for hard and soft sample was that the measurement sensitivity for hard sample was more susceptible to change in lever arm distance and measurement sensitivity for soft sample was more susceptible to the change in tip radius. The measurement sensitivity has been improved significantly on both hard sample and soft sample compared to a DNP V-shaped probe.