Project: Development of Super sharp and long life conductive SPM-probes for electrical measurements.

The aim of the current project is to develop single crystal diamond Scanning Probe Microscope probes (SPM-probes) for electrical modes. Such probes, produced by using principally different production process, will obtain significantly higher consumer acceptance, based on improved specifications (conductivity) and low price (the same as non-conductive probes)._x000D__x000D_Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM) is a powerful technique for monitoring and characterizing “nano world.” It allows to observe the layout of individual atoms of the sample and also to describe the physical and chemical properties depending on the layout of surface atoms which is very useful for characterizing surface roughness, observing surface defects, and determining the size and conformation of molecules and aggregates on the surface._x000D_STM is based on the concept of quantum tunneling where an extremely fine conducting probe is held close to the sample to produce electrical signal. Recording the vertical movement of the tip makes it possible to study surface structures down to the atomic scale. Shortcoming of such technology is that the samples must be conductive._x000D__x000D_Since appearance of Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) , which was introduced first as an accessory of STM but nowadays became the dominant scanning probe technique, the question about reliable and reproducible probes became very essential._x000D_The concept of AFM is to measure the interaction forces between tip and investigated surface. Variations in tip height are recorded while the tip is scanned repeatedly across the sample, producing a topographic image of the surface. AFM is one of the foremost tools for three-dimensional imaging, measuring and manipulating matter at the nano-scale having advantage of imaging almost any type of surface, including polymers, ceramics, composites, glass, and biological samples._x000D_AFM probes are made of Si3N4 and Si and their performance is optimized by various coatings (reflective, conductive, ferromagnetic, wear-resistant, etc.). There are also other AFM modes such as those related with studies of thermal and optical properties. The conducting paths, which are implemented into Si probes by selective doping or by deposition of metal-containing species, can be applied for temperature measurements as termistors or for local tip-heating of the samples . Since AFM is more comprehensive method, which modifications allow to measure about ten different properties of materials, it has a demand of operator’s high qualifications and the increasing requirements are also expanding to the tip’s properties (sharpness, characteristics, life period)._x000D_Since there are a number of methods applied in the contact mode, the sharp tips, even of the soft probes, wear out, are damaged and lose their conductivity at the apex. The limitations of commercial conductive probes motivate the researchers to develop novel conductive probes. Such probes can be made by sharpening the naturally-conductive diamond tips and bonding them to sapphire probes. MM in cooperation with Estonian Nanotechnology Competence Center has developed and applied for a patent (P200800038) on the technology which is based on the creation of super sharp and extra durability SPM-probes from single crystal diamond pyramids (SCDP). _x000D_With the technology, developed by MM, it is expected to modify the probes with diamond tips to make then conducting. Such probes will enhance microscopic measurements in most AFM-based electric modes._x000D__x000D_The CO application areas of conductive SPM probes are biotechnology, polymer industry, data storage, semiconductor and medical devices industry. The SPM microscope market is expected to increase 20% per annum on average and reach $779 million in 2013. The market share of SPM probes is estimated $15.1 million in 2008 and MM market share 10% of that, and increasing._x000D__x000D_The consortium is composed of companies from Estonia, Finland and Germany to be able to accomplish the whole line of work to be done for the conductive single crystal diamond SPM probe development. The consortium Ps MikroMasch Eesti OÜ, Anfatec Instruments AG and GramonD OY have been selected based on complementarity principle, on their expertise in the respective field of activity and prior cooperation experience. _x000D_MM as the initiator and future marketing P as well as conductive cantilever technology developer and commercializing P of the perspective project results will be responsible for the overall coordination of the project work (WP5) and for the development of the conductive cantilever assembly technologies (WP3). _x000D_AT-s CO responsibility will lie in their expertise in SPM microscope production, whereas they are the validating/testing P of the project results (WP4) derived from WP1, WP2 and WP3. _x000D_GD is expected to develop technology for a conductive single diamond tip (WP2) to be assembled to the conductive cantilever (WP3).

Acronym SuperSPM (Reference Number: 5244)
Duration 01/02/2010 - 01/05/2012
Project Topic The aim is to develop technology for conductive single crystal diamond SPM probes for electrical measurements. The novel technology will expand the use of SPM probes due to significantly improved specifications (conductivity, high wear tolerance, sharpness) and will obtain high consumer acceptance.
Project Results
(after finalisation)
The consortium accomplished the production and testing of two technology-based tips (glue-based and doped diamond tip). The weld-based technology was proven not feasible to develop into a product due to high production costs COly. P GramonD has submitted two US patent applications to protect the IP derived from the project, as described in the last progress report of the project.
Network Eurostars
Call Eurostars Cut-Off 3

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
3 GramonD OY Partner Finland
3 MikroMasch Eesti OÜ Coordinator Estonia
3 Anfatec Instruments AG Partner Germany