Tuesday, October 21, 2008

US Patent 7437915 - Lateral thermal actuator for nanoscale probe


Scanning probe microscopes include nanoscale tips which are conventionally used in microscopy devices but which are finding new uses in lithography and ultrahigh density data storage. This patent from IBM teaches an improvement in their Millipede probe array using a thermal actuator to control the lateral movement of individual probes for more precise positioning. Claim 1 reads:

1. A probe for scanning over a substrate, comprising:

a spring cantilever being during operation of said probe mechanically fixed to a probe holding structure;

a tip with a nanoscale apex; and

an actuator for lateral positioning of said tip;

with said actuator comprising a thermally switchable element and a heating element for heating said thermally switchable element.