Probe-Tip Induced Damage in Compliant Substrates

[+] Author and Article Information
Michael Chandross1

 Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM 87185

Christian D. Lorenz

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Materials Research Group, King’s College London, London WC2R 2LS, UK

Mark J. Stevens, Gary S. Grest

 Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM 87185


Corresponding author.

J. Manuf. Sci. Eng 132(3), 030916 (Jun 14, 2010) (4 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4001660 History: Received December 15, 2008; Revised April 09, 2010; Published June 14, 2010; Online June 14, 2010

Nanofabrication using arrays of modified atomic force microscopy (AFM) tips can drastically reduce feature sizes and increase data storage densities. Additionally, AFM experiments are valuable tools for characterizing the tribological properties of surfaces. In order to maximize the potential of nanofabrication techniques, it is necessary to understand fully the interactions between AFM tips and substrates, particularly when the latter is compliant and more damage-prone. To address this issue, we have carried out extensive molecular dynamics simulations of the nanotribological properties of self-assembled alkylsilane monolayers (SAMs) on amorphous silica with a realistic model of an AFM tip. Our simulations demonstrate that for fully physisorbed SAMs, even low load contacts can damage the SAM and cause material transfer to the probe tip. This effect, which is commonly ignored, can have a strong effect on the interpretation of experimental measurements. Partial chemisorption of the SAM lowers, but does not remove the possibility of damage.

Copyright © 2010 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Grahic Jump Location
Figure 1

Snapshots exhibiting tip removal after insertion in the SAM to a distance of d=(a) 1.64 nm and (b) 2.64 nm. Silicon atoms are shown in yellow, oxygen in red, carbon in blue, and hydrogen in white. Also shown are surface plots of the average z-position of each tail group of the SAM after tip removal in (c) and (d) for the same d.

Grahic Jump Location
Figure 2

Snapshots from a shear simulation at a normal load of 10.2 nN. Snapshots are taken at shearing distances of (a) 0 nm, (b) 2.0 nm, and (c) 6.8 nm. The snapshots show a 4.0 nm thick slice of the substrate from the center of the simulation box for clarity.




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