ACS Nano

High-gradient nanomagnets on cantilevers for sensitive detection of nuclear magnetic resonance

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Detection of magnetic resonance as a force between a magnetic tip and nuclear spins has previously been shown to enable sub-10 nm resolution 1H imaging. Maximizing the spin force in such a magnetic resonance force microscopy (MRFM) experiment demands a high field gradient. In order to study a wide range of samples, it is equally desirable to locate the magnetic tip on the force sensor. Here we report the development of attonewton- sensitivity cantilevers with high-gradient cobalt nanomagnet tips. The damage layer thickness and saturation magnetization of the magnetic material were characterized by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and superconducting quantum interference device magnetometry. The coercive field and saturation magnetization of an individual tip were quantified in situ using frequency-shift cantilever magnetometry. Measurements of cantilever dissipation versus magnetic field and tip-sample separation were conducted. MRFM signals from protons in a polystyrene film were studied versus rf irradiation frequency and tip-sample separation, and from this data the tip field and tip-field gradient were evaluated. Magnetic tip performance was assessed by numerically modeling the frequency dependence of the magnetic resonance signal. We observed a tip-field gradient ∂Bztip/∂z estimated to be between 4.4 and 5.4 MT m-1, which is comparable to the gradient used in recent 4 nm resolution 1H imaging experiments and larger by nearly an order of magnitude than the gradient achieved in prior magnet-on-cantilever MRFM experiments. © 2012 American Chemical Society.