Tip-induced nano-writing/machining of Si and DLC surfaces - "anodic" versus thermal oxidation?
Tip-induced oxidative manipulation of conducting surfaces, e.g., Si and some metals, has conventionally been described by a field-induced anodic mechanism. Likewise, in the case of electrically conducting graphitic and diamond-like carbon (DLC) films, tip-induced conversion of carbon to CO2 was initially thought to be due to an ionisation process. There is now mounting evidence for thermal activation playing an important role. The state of the tip is a critical, but largely disregarded, factor in such experiments. The present project has been prepared and characterized by I-V analysis, tips with different initial characteristics (e.g., H-termination , Au-coating, native oxide). Likewise, several surfaces have been prepared (e.g., Si plus termination by either native or thermal oxide, or plus H-termination, DLC and Au), and also subjected to I-V analysis. The resultant point-contact characteristics were found to range from ohmic to non-ohmic (the latter due to either direct or Fowler-Nordheim tunnelling). The various combinations were tested with respect to oxidative yield and tip durability. It was found that the presence of a tunnelling barrier at the point of contact is essential for enhancing yield. Tip durability, on the other hand, is promoted by the barrier being located in the surface thus localizing thermal deposition in the surface rather than in the tip.
Applied Physics A