Single-walled carbon nanotube AFM probes: Optimal imaging resolution of nanoclusters and biomolecules in ambient and fluid environments

Liwei Chen, Li Cheung Chin, Paul D. Ashby, Charles M. Lieber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

95 Scopus citations

Abstract

Carbon nanotubes are potentially ideal atomic force microscopy (AFM) probes due to their well-defined geometry, robust mechanical properties, and in the case of single-walled nanotubes (SWNTs), diameters approaching the size of small organic molecules. Here we elucidate fundamental factors that determine AFM imaging resolution using a combination of experiments with well-characterized SWNT probes and numerical simulations. Tapping mode AFM imaging on gold nanoclusters and DNA molecules using SWNT probes shows that the tip-induced broadening reaches the geometrical limit (i.e., the diameter of the SWNT tips) in the repulsive imaging regime, and the broadening effect becomes greater than the geometrical limit in the attractive imaging regime due to long-range attractive forces. Adjusting the damping enables imaging of isolated DNA molecules with a resolution defined by the tip diameter without disrupting the sample.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1725-1731
Number of pages7
JournalNano Letters
Volume4
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering

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