Review of Scientific Instruments

Soft, entirely photoplastic probes for scanning force microscopy

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A new probe made entirely of plastic material has been developed for scanning probe microscopy. Using a polymer for the cantilever facilitates the realization of mechanical properties that are difficult to achieve with classical silicon technology. The new cantilever and tip presented here are made of an epoxy-based photoplastic. The fabrication process is a simple batch process in which the integrated tip and the lever are defined in one photolithography step. The simplicity of the fabrication step, the use of a polymer as material, and the ability to reuse the silicon mold lead to a soft low-cost probe for scanning force microscopy. Imaging soft condensed matter with photoplastic levers, which uses laser beam deflection sensing, exhibits a resolution that compares well with that of commercially available silicon cantilevers. © 1999 American Institute of Physics.