Scanning thermal microscopy is a high resolution scanning microscopy technique, which can map material topography, thermal conductivity and capacity, and temperature. As with other scanning microscopy techniques such as atomic force microscopy, the contact force is measured via deflection of the tip at the end of the cantilever. While powerful, the scanning microscopy techniques suffer from low throughput. Efforts to increase scanning speed have been met by application of arrays of multiple probe tips that have been designed to scan the substrate in parallel. However, integration of mechanical feedback loop for each individual cantilever that make up the array has been a challenge.
Researchers in the University of Michigan Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science have developed a relatively simple and inexpensive micromachined arrayed thermal probe apparatus and a system for thermal scanning a sample in a contact mode. Their probes have high thermal isolation and high mechanical compliance. In particular, the designed array of probes can be used for high-throughput contact mode scanning of soft samples without mechanical feedback, which enables use in wide arrays for high-speed measurements over large sample surfaces. These probes can be manufactured by photolithographic fabrication process, which would permit large numbers of probes to be made in a uniform and reproducible manner at lower costs.
Applications and Advantages
- Monitoring of semiconductor manufacturing process
- Characterization of nano-scale materials
- Imaging of biological cells
- data storage
- High thermal isolation
- Improved performance
- Ease of operation
- Lower manufacturing costs