The size of the probe in Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) is a significant factor in image resolution. This study presents a new method to functionalize and reduce the radius of tips for scanning probe microscopies. The modification of the silicon tips is carried out by deposition of nanoclusters using an ion cluster source (ICS) and under ultrahigh vacuum (UHV) conditions. This modification is by a physical process in a single step that allows to adjust the chemical composition of the nanoclusters. In order to observe the effect of modified tips, low dimensional structures were measured. Samples had zero dimensional, one-dimensional and two-dimensional systems that are often analyzed in AFM. Observed results shown that the tips covered by nanoclusters produce images with a better resolution measurement compared to the standard silicon tips. Moreover, the lifetime of the tips is increased after deposition of the nanoclusters.

L. Martínez, M. Tello, M. Díaz, E. Román, R. Garcia, and Y. Huttel
Review of Scientific Instruments, 82 (2011) 023710. DOI: 10.1063/1.3556788.