In situ, controlled and reproducible attachment of carbon nanotubes onto conductive AFM tips

Jianxun Xu, Yoshitaka Shingaya, Yuliang Zhao, Tomonobu Nakayama

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Owing to the small diameter, wear resistance, high aspect ratio of their cylindrical structure and outstanding young's modulus, carbon nanotubes are regarded as excellent probes for atomic force microscope (AFM) imaging and various applications. To take the best out of carbon nanotubes' potentials as AFM probes, we present a facile and reliable method to attach a single carbon nanotube onto an AFM probe covered with conductive Au layer. The method involves the following steps: positioning the AFM probe exactly onto a designated multiple-walled carbon nanotube growing vertically on a conductive substrate, establishing physical contact of the probe apex to the carbon nanotube with an appropriate force, and finally flowing a DC current of typically 100 μA from the AFM probe to the substrate through the carbon nanotube. The current flow results in the fracture and attachment of the carbon nanotube onto the AFM probe. Our method is similar to that reported in previous studies to cut and assemble carbon nanotubes by flowing current under SEM, but by our method we succeed to achieve superior control of protruding length and reproducible attachment angle of the carbon nanotube in one step. Moreover, it is now possible to reliably prepare carbon nanotube probes in-situ during AFM experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-16
Number of pages6
JournalApplied Surface Science
StatePublished - Apr 30 2015


  • AFM
  • Carbon nanotube probes
  • Conductive probes
  • Metrological profiling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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