Characteristics of fracture during the approach process and wear mechanism of a silicon AFM tip

Koo Hyun Chung, Yong Ha Lee, Dae Eun Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Citations (Scopus)


The wear of an atomic force microscope (AFM) tip is one of the crucial issues in AFM as well as in other probe-based applications. In this work, wear tests under extremely low normal load using an AFM were conducted. Also, in order to understand the nature of silicon tip wear, the wear characteristics of crystal silicon and amorphous silicon oxide layer were investigated by a high-resolution transmission electron microscope (HRTEM). It was found that fracture of the tip readily occurred due to impact during the approach process. Experimental results showed that the impact should be below 0.1 nN s to avoid significant fracture of the tip. Also, it was observed that wear of the amorphous layer, formed at the end of the tip, occurred at the initial stage of the silicon tip damage process. Based on Archard's wear law, the wear coefficient of the amorphous layer was in the range of 0.009-0.014. As for the wear characteristics of the silicon tip, it was shown that wear occurred gradually under light normal load and the wear rate decreased with increase in the sliding distance. As for the wear mechanism of the silicon tip, oxidation wear was identified to be the most significant. It was shown that the degree of oxidation was higher under high normal load and in a nitrogen environment, oxidation of the silicon tip was reduced.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-171
Number of pages11
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2005 Jan

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Korea Research Foundation Grant (KRF-2001-041-E00056).

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Instrumentation


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