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Modeling the Thermomechanical Interaction Between an Atomic Force Microscope Cantilever and Laser Light

[+] Author Affiliations
Aarti Chigullapalli, Jason V. Clark

Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

Paper No. IMECE2012-89215, pp. 231-240; 10 pages
  • ASME 2012 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 9: Micro- and Nano-Systems Engineering and Packaging, Parts A and B
  • Houston, Texas, USA, November 9–15, 2012
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4525-7
  • Copyright © 2012 by ASME


In this paper, we present the first computational model of the thermomechanical interaction between an atomic force microscope (AFM) cantilever and laser light. We validate simulation with experiment. Design parameters of our model include AFM laser power, laser spot position, and geometric and material properties of the cantilever. In the area of nanotechnology, the laser beam deflection method has been widely used in AFMs for detecting the cantilever’s deflection and resonance frequency. The laser deflection method consists of reflecting a laser beam off of an AFM cantilever onto a photo diode, which is converted to a voltage signal. Deflection of the cantilever results in a change in the laser reflection angle and a change in voltage signal. The mechanical properties of the cantilever affect the amount of deflection. Although much work has been done on increasing the sensitivity of the AFM, little work has been done on investigating the thermal effect of the laser-cantilever interaction. We observe that laser-induced thermal expansions in the AFM cantilever are measureable. Our simulated results suggest that both the laser power and spot positions significantly change the resonant response of the cantilevers. The resonance response is critical for the AFM tapping mode. In considering various laser powers, we observe that as we increase the power, the average temperature of the beam increases, which causes a decrease in resonance frequency. In considering various laser reflection spot positions, we find that as the laser spot moves away from the clamped end of the cantilever, the dissipation to the sample which is 6 m below the cantilever tip decreases, causing an increase in temperature but decrease in material softening. The results of our models are close to the experimental results with a relative error of 0.1%.

Copyright © 2012 by ASME



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