The Nanoscale World

Study on the uncertainty associated with spring constant calibration using common methods


posted by Ben Ohler
Wed, Apr 28 2010

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Study on the uncertainty associated with spring constant calibration using common methods

Abstract

Uncertainty in cantilever spring constants is a critical issue in atomic force microscopy (AFM) force measurements. Though numerous methods exist for calibrating cantilever spring constants, the accuracy of these methods can be limited by both the physical models themselves as well as uncertainties in their experimental implementation. Here we report the results from two of the most common calibration methods, the thermal tune method and the Sader method. These were implemented on a standard AFM system as well as using laser Doppler vibrometry (LDV). Using LDV eliminates some uncertainties associated with optical lever detection on an AFM. It also offers considerably higher signal to noise deflection measurements. We find that AFM and LDV result in similar uncertainty in the calibrated spring constants, about 5%, using either the thermal tune or Sader methods provided that certain limitations of the methods and instrumentation are observed.

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