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Content archived on 2024-04-30

The calibration of scanning probe microscopes


SPMs, in particular AFMs begin to captivate fields of application in industrial research and development as well as quality assurance systems. There is one major annual international conference devoted to this theme and several national programmes have been established in the past few years with the goal of supporting industrial applications. At present, SPMs are employed in quality assurance systems (in compliance with EN 29000 / ISO 9000), mainly in microelectronics and computer component fabrication; however, the interest in SPMs is also growing in other industries, such as micromechanics and thin films. Besides the use for dimensional quality control, SPMs are used in R&D for lithography, both indirectly by exposing resist and directly by depositing material.
Amongst scientists in research and application, the unanimous opinion is that for measuring and lithographical purposes there is need for better positioning of the probe. In conventional SPMs, the voltage across the piezos is taken as position indicator. However, it is known that piezos suffer from hysteresis, and from time- and temperaturedependent creep. Conventional SPMs offer software corrections for this behaviour. The first real metrological SPMs with internal hardware corrections are now on the market. Both types need initial and periodic calibration. Users are uncertain about effective calibration procedures,and the necessity of recalibration. Currently, there are only vague hints or instructions in user manuals and in a few publications. The network aims at bringing together working groups which are primarily interested in the metrological use of SPMS - i. e. national institutes and research institutes to establish traceability and to develop calibration methods, and users and manufacturers to investigate these methods in practice. The aim of the network is to investigate standards (artefacts) and (existing) procedures concerning their practical applicability and their potential possibility with respect to their traceability (QS systems). The main work therefore will be to organize and carry through comparison measurements. For the beginning, already existing standards (artefacts) can be used. During the running time of this network, standards from the newly installed SMT project 'Transfer standards for calibration of scanning probe microscopes' will be used whenever possible and available. Some of the partners have developed algorithms for the evaluation of measurements and the calibration of SPMs. These procedures shall be investigated together with the standards by all partners, including especically the industrial users.
The results will be presented in reports and in an annual seminar.The synthesis report will contain a draft guideline for the calibration of SPMs.


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Bundesrepublik Deutschland
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100,Bundesallee 100
38116 Braunschweig

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