A cantilever used for atomic force microscopy is modified with polymeric gels to provide the tip with abilities to hold or release molecules and to alter its own characteristics in response to external stimuli. Nanometer-scaled, cross-linked polymer layers are grafted on the surface of an ordinary silicon-based cantilever before the bulk reaction mixture becomes macroscopic gel. A dry, 6 nm polyacrylamide grafted layer swells to about 30 nm in water. The swelled tip could withstand repeated scanning and produce stable images. In the case of a hydrogel that undergoes volume phase transition by pH, a soft hydrophilic tip is transformed into a harder hydrophobic tip by changing pH, thus demonstrating that the nanometer-scaled, grafted network behaves in the same way as the bulk gel.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Condensed Matter Physics
- General Materials Science
- Surfaces and Interfaces