Lateral resolution of electrostatic force microscopy for mapping of dielectric interfaces in ambient conditions
Article dans une revue avec comité de lecture
The attainable lateral resolution of electrostatic force microscopy (EFM) in an ambient air environment on dielectric materials was characterized on a reference sample comprised of two distinct, immiscible glassy polymers cut in a cross-section by ultramicrotomy. Such a sample can be modeled as two semi-infinite dielectrics with a sharp interface, presenting a quasi-ideal, sharp dielectric contrast. Electric polarizability line profiles across the interface were obtained, in both lift-mode and feedback-regulated dynamic mode EFM, as a function of probe/surface separation, for different cases of oscillation amplitudes. We find that the results do not match predictions for dielectric samples, but comply well or are even better than predicted for conductive interfaces. A resolution down to 3 nm can be obtained by operating in feedback-regulated EFM realized by adopting constant-excitation frequency-modulation mode. This suggests resolution is ruled by the closest approach distance rather than by average separation, even with probe oscillation amplitudes as high as 10 nm. For better comparison with theoretical predictions, effective probe radii and cone aperture angles were derived from approach curves, by also taking into account the finite oscillation amplitude of the probe, by exploiting a data reduction procedure previously devised for the derivation of interatomic potentials.
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