Tunable stiffness scanning microscope probe

Clemens Mueller-Falcke, Yong Ak Song, Sang Gook Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Scanning probe microscopy (SPM) has been an important tool to image and manipulate micro/nano scale structures. The measurement is based on the optical detection of a very small deflection of a flexible cantilever while traveling near the sample surface. However, the use of a cantilever with a sharp oxidized conical tip is quite costly, very difficult to scale up and unable to scan variable hardness surfaces, such as cell membranes in vivo. A concept of in-plane probe tip is developed. It has a carbon nanotube tip, built-in actuator and a tip deflection sensor, all assembled in the same plane. Most of all, an in-plane probe design would enable the stiffness of the probe to become tunable by using MEMS clutched springs. This allows a continuous measurement of samples with inhomogeneous surface hardness without changing the probe in the middle of a measurement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number04
Pages (from-to)31-37
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - 2004
EventOptomechatronic Micro/Nano Components, Devices, and Systems - Philadelphia, PA, United States
Duration: Oct 27 2004Oct 28 2004


  • Atomic Force Microscopy
  • Carbon nanotube tip
  • Tunable stiffness probe

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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