High Frequency 3C-SiC AFM Cantilever Using Thermal Actuation and Metallic Piezoresistive Detection
One way to improve the force sensitivity of Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) cantilevers is to increase their resonance frequency. SiC is an excellent material for that purpose due to its high Young’s modulus and low mass density. This size reduction makes conventional optical motion detection methods inappropriate. Here, we introduce self-sensing, self-excited high frequency AFM cantilevers. The motion detection is based on the measurement of a metallic piezoresistor incorporated in the cantilever. The motion excitation is performed by electrothermal actuation using another metallic circuit. Cantilevers with sizes as low as 4 μm in length, 1.2 μm in width and 0.5 μm in thickness were realized by using different steps of e-beam lithography, deposition of thin gold films to pattern the piezoresistor and the electrothermal actuation electrode. Dry etching SF6 plasma was used for etching the SiC cantilever and TMAH solution heated to 80°C to release the cantilever. In this case, a thigh control of underetching, which reduces the cantilever resonance frequency was required.
R. Boubekri et al., "High Frequency 3C-SiC AFM Cantilever Using Thermal Actuation and Metallic Piezoresistive Detection", Materials Science Forum, Vol. 711, pp. 80-83, 2012