Atomic resolution with high-eigenmode tapping mode atomic force microscopy

Journal article

Publication Details

Author list: Severin N., Dzhanoev A.R., Lin H., Rauf A., Kirstein S., Palma C.A., Sokolov I.M., Rabe J.P.

Journal: Physical Review Research

Publication year: 2022

Volume number: 4

Issue number: 2

Publisher: American Physical Society


Languages: English-Great Britain


Atomic surface structure imaging is instrumental for the understanding of surface-related phenomena. Here, we show that conventional tapping mode atomic force microscopy with high cantilever eigenmodes and subnanometer amplitudes allow routine atomic imaging at atmospheric pressures. We identify the reasons for failure of atomic resolution imaging employing low eigenmodes. Strong tip-surface interactions cause significant differences between the oscillatory behaviors of the inclination of the cantilever as detected by conventional instruments and of the vertical position of the tip, which prevents correct functioning of instrumental feedback control loops. However, high effective spring constants of high eigenmodes make it possible to overcome the problem. Furthermore, the combination of high effective elastic constants of high cantilever eigenmodes with the high flexibility of the cantilever substantially enhances the imaging stability, thereby universally allowing atomic imaging of solid surfaces in gaseous environments and at elevated temperatures. Demonstrated imaging examples include single sulfur vacancies at the surface of MoS2 crystals imaged at temperatures ranging from room temperature to 250°C and potassium ions on hydrophilic and highly adhesive muscovite mica surfaces. Moreover, the high imaging stability allows knocking atoms off the MoS2 surface by hard tapping, indicating the potential for ultrahigh resolution lithography.


Last updated on 2022-03-11 at 15:45