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Design of a contact probe with high positioning accuracy for plasmonic lithography



Plasmonic lithography with a contact probe records nano-meter scale features and has high-throughput owing to its capability to scan in contact mode. The probe is commonly based on a micrometer-scale cantilever, which leads to the tip-positioning problem due to force-deflection that induces lateral tip displacement. We propose a geometrically modified probe to achieve high positioning accuracy. Contrary to a conventional cantilever-tip probe, we designed a “circular probe” with arc-shaped arms that hold the tip in the center. The mechanism is based on the “fixed-fixed beam” concept in material mechanics. To confirm its positioning accuracy, we used a finite element method (FEM) to calculate the tip displacement for a circular probe and compared the results with those using a conventional cantilever-tip probe. The probe was designed considering a silicon-based micro-fabrication process. The designed probe has a square outline boundary with a length of 50 µm, four arms, and a pyramidal tip with a height of 5 µm. The ratio of the lateral tip displacement to the vertical deflection was evaluated to indicate the accuracy of the probe. The probe has higher positioning accuracy by a factor of 103 and 10 in its approach mode and scan mode, respectively, compared with a cantilever-tip probe. We expect that the probe is suitable for the applications that require high positioning accuracy, such as nanolithography in contact mode and applications based on multiple-probe arrays. SCANNING 33: 99–105, 2011. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.