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A method and apparatus for aligning a probe for scanning probe microscopy to the tip of a pointed sample

The invention is related to a method and apparatus for aligning a probe (1) suitable for scanning probe microscopy (SPM) relative to the apex region (21) of a pointed sample (11), such as a sample for atom probe tomography, in order to perform an SPM acquisition of said apex region to thereby obtain an image of said region. The alignment takes place by scanning an area above the sample tip while the SPM probe operates in contactless acquisition mode, and while an electric and/or a magnetic field appears around the tip of the sample. A preferred embodiment involves a DC biased sample scanned by a grounded probe operating in EFM mode (Electric Force Microscopy). The scan is repeated multiple times at decreasing distances from the sample tip, until the field is detected in the form of an area in the detected image, exhibiting a gradient of the measured probe parameter on which the image is based. Further decreasing the distance and repeating the scan allows to define the position of the sample tip's apex area (21) and align the probe tip to said area.
Patent Publication Number: EP3671224
Source: EPO
Year filing: 2018
Year publication: 2020
Status: Requested
Technology domains: Electrical machinery, Measurement
Validated for IOF-key: Yes