To solve this challenge we have applied an AC voltage between the cantilever—similar to the arm of a record player with a needle—and the sample surface. The cantilever bends and the tip vibrates with an almost imperceptible estimated amplitude of one nanometer. Though vanishingly small, it is this vibration that greatly reduces friction and “effectively” eliminates tip wear under experimental conditions.
With the wear problem tackled, researchers at IBM Research – Zurich are now investigating a number of possible applications of scanning probe-based technologies including nanofabrication, nanolithography and high-speed metrology.
Now if I could just get those original records of yesterday fixed I could sleep better again.
IBM Research - Zurich