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1.  Determining cantilever stiffness from thermal noise 
We critically discuss the extraction of intrinsic cantilever properties, namely eigenfrequency f n, quality factor Q n and specifically the stiffness k n of the nth cantilever oscillation mode from thermal noise by an analysis of the power spectral density of displacement fluctuations of the cantilever in contact with a thermal bath. The practical applicability of this approach is demonstrated for several cantilevers with eigenfrequencies ranging from 50 kHz to 2 MHz. As such an analysis requires a sophisticated spectral analysis, we introduce a new method to determine k n from a spectral analysis of the demodulated oscillation signal of the excited cantilever that can be performed in the frequency range of 10 Hz to 1 kHz regardless of the eigenfrequency of the cantilever. We demonstrate that the latter method is in particular useful for noncontact atomic force microscopy (NC-AFM) where the required simple instrumentation for spectral analysis is available in most experimental systems.
PMCID: PMC3628876  PMID: 23616942
AFM; cantilever; noncontact atomic force microscopy (NC-AFM); Q-factor; thermal excitation; resonance; spectral analysis; stiffness
2.  Thermal noise limit for ultra-high vacuum noncontact atomic force microscopy 
The noise of the frequency-shift signal Δf in noncontact atomic force microscopy (NC-AFM) consists of cantilever thermal noise, tip–surface-interaction noise and instrumental noise from the detection and signal processing systems. We investigate how the displacement-noise spectral density d z at the input of the frequency demodulator propagates to the frequency-shift-noise spectral density d Δ f at the demodulator output in dependence of cantilever properties and settings of the signal processing electronics in the limit of a negligible tip–surface interaction and a measurement under ultrahigh-vacuum conditions. For a quantification of the noise figures, we calibrate the cantilever displacement signal and determine the transfer function of the signal-processing electronics. From the transfer function and the measured d z, we predict d Δ f for specific filter settings, a given level of detection-system noise spectral density d z ds and the cantilever-thermal-noise spectral density d z th. We find an excellent agreement between the calculated and measured values for d Δ f. Furthermore, we demonstrate that thermal noise in d Δ f, defining the ultimate limit in NC-AFM signal detection, can be kept low by a proper choice of the cantilever whereby its Q-factor should be given most attention. A system with a low-noise signal detection and a suitable cantilever, operated with appropriate filter and feedback-loop settings allows room temperature NC-AFM measurements at a low thermal-noise limit with a significant bandwidth.
PMCID: PMC3566860  PMID: 23400758
Cantilever; feedback loop; filter; noncontact atomic force microscopy (NC-AFM); noise
3.  Dimer/tetramer motifs determine amphiphilic hydrazine fibril structures on graphite 
Fibril structures are produced at a solvent–graphite interface by self-assembly of custom-designed symmetric and asymmetric amphiphilic benzamide derivatives bearing C10 aliphatic chains. Scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM) studies reveal geometry-dependent internal structures for the elementary fibrils of the two molecules that are distinctly different from known mesophase bulk structures. The structures are described by building-block models based on hydrogen-bonded dimer and tetramer precursors of hydrazines. The closure and growth in length of building units into fibrils takes place through van der Waals forces acting between the dangling alkyl chains. The nanoscale morphology is a consequence of the basic molecular geometry, where it follows that a closure to form a fibril is not always likely for the doubly substituted hydrazine. Therefore, we also observe crystallite formation.
PMCID: PMC3458612  PMID: 23019562
fibrils; graphite; hydrazide; hydrazine; interface; self-assembly; STM

Results 1-3 (3)