Precise surface measurements at the nanoscale

L. I. Fedina, D. V. Sheglov, S. S. Kosolobov, A. K. Gutakovskii, A. V. Latyshev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Availability of self-assembly effects occurring at the atomically clean Si(1 1 1) surface during high temperature anneals in an ultrahigh vacuum chamber for fabrication of a precise calibrator at nanoscale measurements is discussed. These effects provide formation of ordered monatomic step arrays assembled by step bunches divided by almost singular surface areas with widely spaced monatomic steps suitable for calibration of atomic force microscopes. The monatomic step height at the Si(1 1 1) surface and its replication by the native oxide layer was attested by the high-resolution transmission electron microscopy followed by Digital Micrograph analysis and found to be equal to interplanar spacing (0.314 nm) in the volume of Si crystal with 0.001 nm of accuracy. Excellent replication of the monatomic step height by oxide film covering the Si surface makes available precise AFM calibration at the nanoscale at ambient conditions. The averaged step height measured by AFM scanning of 1 × 1 νm2 is found to be 0.314 0.003 nm (∼1% of uncertainty). However, when the scan area becomes bigger than 2 × 2 νm2, the height measurement uncertainty increases sharply 15 times (0.310 0.034 nm). We assume that this is due to differences between piezo element calibrations at small and large scan areas. The height measurement uncertainty for step bunches with well-defined quantity of steps (28) even at a large scan area (18 × 18 νm2) turns out to be 0.3%.

Original languageEnglish
Article number054004
JournalMeasurement Science and Technology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Atomic force microscopy
  • Monatomic step
  • Nanoscale measurements
  • Self-assembly effects
  • Surface


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