Tuesday, August 25, 2009

US Patent 7578176 - Accounting for tip variation in scanning probe microscopes


Atomic force microscopes (AFMs) detect matter on the nanoscale based upon the interaction of an ultrasharp tip and a substrate under investigation. However, under repeated usage the tips of AFMs undergo wear which requires recalibration of the microscope and which slows down the speed of material characterization. This patent from Veeco Metrology teaches a method which predicts the changes in the AFM tip based on the trends of usage in order to improve the throughput of characterization. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method for making nanoscale measurements using a scanning probe, the method comprising:

performing a plurality of probe characterizations;

substantially automatically analyzing the plurality of probe characterizations to infer a trend associated with at least one tip shape attribute of the scanning probe;

using the scanning probe to obtain data from a sample; and

utilizing the data and the trend to compute a measurement of the sample that accounts for changes to the scanning probe.