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Evaluation of the contact resonance frequencies in atomic force microscopy as a method for surface characterisation

: Rabe, U.; Kopycinska, M.; Hirsekorn, S.; Arnold, W.


Ultrasonics 40 (2002), No.1-8, pp.49-54
ISSN: 0041-624X
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IZFP ()
atomic force microscope; Contact Stiffness; elasticity; dynamic mode; ultrasound; contact mechanics; contact resonance; nanoindentation

The combination of ultrasound with atomic force microscopy (AFM) opens the high lateral resolution of scanning probe techniques in the nanometer range to ultrasonics. One possible method is to observe the resonance frequencies of the AFM sensors under different tip-sample interaction conditions. AFM sensors can be regarded as small flexible beams. Their lowest flexural and torsional resonance frequencies are usually found to be in a range between several kHz and several MHz depending on their exact geometrical shape. When the sensor tip is in a repulsive elastic contact with a sample surface, the local indentation modulus can be determined by the contact resonance techniques. Contact resonances in the ultrasonic frequency range can also be used to improve the image contrast in other dynamic techniques as, for example, in the so-called piezo-mode. Here, an alternating electric field is applied between a conducting cantilever and a piezoelectric sample. Via the inverse piezoelectric effect, the sample surface is set into vibration. This excitation is localised around the contact area formed by the sensor tip and the sample surface. We show applications of the contact resonance technique to piezoelectric ceramics.