, Volume 46, Issue 3, pp 597-607
Date: 21 Oct 2010

Sliding onset of nanoclusters: a new AFM-based approach

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In the last twenty years the Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) is become one of the most important instruments to perform characterization at the nanoscale and to achieve direct control of nano-objects. In this paper a quantitative method to estimate the detachment energy of gold spherical nanoclusters with typical diameters of 13, 24 and 42 nm deposited on silicon dioxide and Highly Oriented Pyrolytic Graphite (HOPG) by AFM measures with Amplitude Modulation (AM-AFM) feedback is presented. It is based on the use of AFM tip oscillations to induce clusters detachments and on the substrate mapping with phase signal. With this powerful method is possible to move in a very controlled way nanoparticles selected by dimensions. All experiments have been performed in air conditions using a commercial AFM microscope with cantilevers characterized by nominal spring constants lying between 5 and 50 N/m.