On-Demand 3D Printing of Nanowire Probes for High-Aspect-Ratio Atomic Force Microscopy Imaging

ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2020 Oct 14;12(41):46571-46577. doi: 10.1021/acsami.0c14148. Epub 2020 Sep 30.


With the growing importance of three-dimensional (3D) nanomaterials and devices, there has been a great demand for high-fidelity, full profile topographic characterizations in a nondestructive manner. A promising route is to employ a high-aspect-ratio (HAR) probe in atomic force microscopy (AFM) imaging. However, the fabrication of HAR-AFM probes continues to suffer from extravagant cost, limited material choice, and complicated manufacturing steps. Here, we report one-step, on-demand electrohydrodynamic 3D printing of metallic HAR-AFM probes with tailored dimensions. Our additive fabrication approach yields a freestanding metallic nanowire with an aspect ratio over 30 directly on a cantilever within tens of seconds, producing a HAR-AFM probe. Furthermore, the benefits associated with unprecedented simplicity in the probe's dimension control, material selection, and regeneration are provided. The 3D-printed HAR-AFM probe exhibits a better fidelity in deep trench AFM imaging than a standard pyramidal probe. We expect this approach to find facile, material-saving manufacturing routes in particular for customizing functional nanoprobes.

Keywords: 3D nanoscale topography; atomic force microscope; deep trench; electrohydrodynamic printing; high-aspect-ratio probe.