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Beilstein J Nanotechnol. 2011;2:659-64. doi: 10.3762/bjnano.2.70. Epub 2011 Oct 4.

The atomic force microscope as a mechano-electrochemical pen.

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1
Institute of Applied Physics and Center for Functional Nanostructures (CFN), South Campus, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), 76128 Karlsruhe, Germany.

Abstract

We demonstrate a method that allows the controlled writing of metallic patterns on the nanometer scale using the tip of an atomic force microscope (AFM) as a "mechano-electrochemical pen". In contrast to previous experiments, no voltage is applied between the AFM tip and the sample surface. Instead, a passivated sample surface is activated locally due to lateral forces between the AFM tip and the sample surface. In this way, the area of tip-sample interaction is narrowly limited by the mechanical contact between tip and sample, and well-defined metallic patterns can be written reproducibly. Nanoscale structures and lines of copper were deposited, and the line widths ranged between 5 nm and 80 nm, depending on the deposition parameters. A procedure for the sequential writing of metallic nanostructures is introduced, based on the understanding of the passivation process. The mechanism of this mechano-electrochemical writing technique is investigated, and the processes of site-selective surface depassivation, deposition, dissolution and repassivation of electrochemically deposited nanoscale metallic islands are studied in detail.

KEYWORDS:

NEMS and MEMS; atomic force microscopy; deposition; electrochemistry; nanoelectronics; nanofabrication; nanolithography; nanotechnology; scanning probe lithography

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