Scanning probe microscopy employing conductive probes is a powerful tool for the investigation and modification of electrical properties at the nanoscale. Application areas include semiconductor metrology, probe-based data storage and materials research. Conductive probes can also be used to emulate nanoscale electrical contacts. However, unreliable electrical contact and tip wear have severely hampered the widespread usage of conductive probes for these applications. In this paper we introduce a force modulation technique for enhanced nanoscale electrical sensing using conductive probes. This technique results in lower friction, reduced tip wear and enhanced electrical contact quality. Experimental results using phase-change material stacks and platinum silicide conductive probes clearly demonstrate the efficacy of the proposed technique. Furthermore, conductive-mode imaging experiments on specially prepared platinum/carbon samples are presented to demonstrate the widespread applicability of this technique.
- TST-uSPAM: micro Scanning Probe Array Memory