Single-pass Kelvin force microscopy and dC/dZ measurements in the intermittent contact: applications to polymer materials

Beilstein J Nanotechnol. 2011;2:15-27. doi: 10.3762/bjnano.2.2. Epub 2011 Jan 6.


We demonstrate that single-pass Kelvin force microscopy (KFM) and capacitance gradient (dC/dZ) measurements with force gradient detection of tip-sample electrostatic interactions can be performed in the intermittent contact regime in different environments. Such combination provides sensitive detection of the surface potential and capacitance gradient with nanometer-scale spatial resolution as it was verified on self-assemblies of fluoroalkanes and a metal alloy. The KFM and dC/dZ applications to several heterogeneous polymer materials demonstrate the compositional mapping of these samples in dry and humid air as well as in organic vapors. In situ imaging in different environments facilitates recognition of the constituents of multi-component polymer systems due to selective swelling of components.

Keywords: Kelvin force microscopy; atomic force microscopy; fluoroalkanes; surface potential.