24 Mai – Thesis defense - Ngoc Mai Luu

10 h30 Amphi 3, Building A, ENSCBP (Pessac)

Single-walled carbon nanotube probes for atomic force microscopy: synthesis and imaging in air and in liquid.

Atomic force microscopy (AFM) is used to study at nanometer scale samples on surfaces. It offers many advantages over conventional optical microscopes and electron microscopes: no freezing, metal coating, vacuum or dye is needed to prepare the sample. The AFM imaging resolution is mostly determined by the sharpness of the used probe and can reach molecular resolution. However, silicon probes are brittle. Additionally, their pyramidal or conical shape generates artifacts on the resulting image. Among the probes currently under development, single-walled carbon nanotube probes offer good characteristics in terms of imaging quality and longevity. These probes are more resistant and smaller in size than traditional probes.
This thesis focuses on the direct fabrication of single-wall nanotube probes at the apex of commercial AFM tips by the hot-filament chemical vapor deposition method in a reactor developed at CBMN. By playing on the synthesis parameters, such as the amount of catalyst or the temperature of synthesis, we optimize the original synthesis protocol in collaboration with its author Anne-Marie Bonnot in order to adapt it to our reactor. The nanotubes obtained are characterized by Raman, scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy and AFM. The characterization shows that the nanotubes obtained have a single-wall structure. The yield of nanotube probes for AFM is 30%.
AFM approach-retract curves give us information about the nanotube probe used, such as its stiffness or the number of nanotubes in contact with the surface. These curves allow us to select the imaging parameters. Two samples are tested with the produced probes: highly oriented pyrolytic graphite and rectangular DNA origamis. We image the samples with nanotube probes in both air with dynamical FM mode and in liquid medium with Peak Force mode. The results show high resolution images of DNA origami where the 5.8 nm period is observable. Nanotube probes also have longer life than silicon AFM tips.

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