Applied Physics Letters

Miniaturized single-crystal silicon cantilevers for scanning force microscopy

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We report on a method to reproducibly batch fabricate single-crystal silicon cantilevers with dimensions an order of magnitude smaller than conventional cantilevers, i.e., with lengths between 10 and 35 μm, a width of 4 μm, and a thickness of 0.2 μm. The cantilevers are attached to support chips specially tailored for use in a scanning force microscope. The resonance frequencies are0.2 - 2 MHz, the spring constants about 0.05-1 Nm, and the quality factors 1.5-3.0× 104. The resulting thermal force noise is 1-2× 10-16 NHz at room temperature in vacuum. These cantilevers allow an enhancement of the measurement speed of more than one order of magnitude, and 2-5× better force sensitivity. After annealing in ultrahigh vacuum and measuring at liquid helium temperature, the thermal force noise of these cantilevers is expected to be further reduced down to 10-18 NHz. © 2005 American Institute of Physics.