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A comparative investigation of thickness measurements of ultra-thin water films by scanning probe techniques

: Opitz, A.; Scherge, M.; Ahmed, S.I.-U.; Schaefer, J.A.


Journal of applied physics 101 (2007), Nr.6, Art. 064310, 5 S.
ISSN: 0021-8979
ISSN: 1089-7550
Fraunhofer IWM ()

The reliable operation of micro- and nanomechanical devices necessitates a precise knowledge of the water film thickness present on the surfaces of these devices with accuracy in the nanometer range. In this work, the thickness of an ultra-thin water film was measured by distance tunneling spectroscopy and distance dynamic force spectroscopy during desorption in an ultra-high vacuum system, from about 2.5 nm up to complete desorption at 10-8 mbar. The tunneling current and the amplitude of vibration and the normal force were detected as a function of the probe-sample distance. In these experiments, a direct comparison of both methods was possible. It was determined that dynamic force spectroscopy provides the most accurate values. The previously reported tunneling spectroscopy, which requires the application of significantly high voltages generally leads to values that are 25 times higher than values determined by dynamic force spectroscopy.