Engineering Transactions, 62, 4, pp. 403–421, 2014

Finite Element Modelling of Atomic Force Microscope Cantilever Beams with Uncertainty in Material and Dimensional Parameters

Bin WANG
Brunel University London
United Kingdom

Xiao WU
Southwest Jiaotong University
China

Tat-Hean GAN
Brunel University
United Kingdom

Alexis RUSINEK
National Engineering School of Metz, Laboratory of Mechanics
France

The stiffness and the natural frequencies of a rectangular and a V-shaped micro-cantilever beams used in Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) were analysed using the Finite Element (FE) method. A determinate analysis in the material and dimensional parameters was first carried out to compare with published analytical and experimental results. Uncertainties in the beams’ parameters such as the material properties and dimensions due to the fabrication process were then modelled using a statistic FE analysis. It is found that for the rectangular micro-beam, a ±5% change in the value of the parameters could result in 3 to 8-folds (up to more than 45%) errors in the stiffness or the 1st natural frequency of the cantilever. Such big uncertainties need to be considered in the design and calibration of AFM to ensure the measurement accuracy at the micron and nano scales. In addition, a sensitivity analysis was carried out for the influence of the studied parameters. The finding provides useful guidelines on the design of micro-cantilevers used in the AFM technology.
Keywords: atomic force microscope; cantilever; stiffness; natural frequency; sensitivity analysis.
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