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Atomic Force Microscope as a Tool for Nanometer Scale Surface Patterning

AFM image of Ti film after raster mode LAO
AFM image of Ti film after raster mode LAO
Progress in scanning probe microscopy (SPM) has transformed scanning tunneling microscopes (STMs) and atomic force microscopes (AFMs) from measuring devices into technological tools. Local surface modification by scanning probe allows us to treat materials with resolution from the angstrom to micron level [1-3]. The demonstration of single electron transistor creation by LAO [4] opens the way to the development of industrial nanolithography processing.

However, an insufficient knowledge in detailed understanding of the LAO mechanism limits the integration of this process into bulk production. The first experiments in STM tip oxidation of the hydrogen passivated Si surface was demonstrated in [5]. It was shown that electrical and structural properties of the positive-biased surface are changed irreversibly in air at room temperature under the tip effect. The common explanation of these changes in surface topography is formation of the oxide under the tip. The tendencies obtained in various works of the oxide pattern shape and its growth kinetics on the conditions of tip-induced treatment allows us to propose an electrochemical mechanism of LAO. Significant effect of the humidity on oxidation velocity is observed in [6]. This fact confirms the necessity of adsorbed electrolyte layer presence to produce oxide that is in good agreement with the electrochemical model. Moreover, there are other technological parameters that affect the oxidation kinetics. For example, the conductivity of an oxidized material affects the oxidation rate [7].

Nanotech 2005 Conference Proceedings

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