Determination of the tip geometry is a prerequisite to converting the scanning probe microscope (SPM) from a simple imaging instrument to a tool that can perform width measurements accurately. Recently we developed blind reconstruction, a method to characterize the SPM tip shape. In principle this method allows estimation of the tip shape from an image of a tip characterizer sample that need not be known independently. In this work, we compare blind reconstruction results to those obtained by scanning electron microscopy for two diamond stylus profiler tips, one of which has a gentle shape and the other a more complicated profile. Of the two comparisons, the poorer agreement is still better than 30nm for parts of the tip within a several micrometer neighborhood of the apex. In both cases the differences are comparable to the combined standard uncertainties of the measurements. We estimate uncertainties from five sources, the most significant of which is the repeatability of the stylus profiling instrument. In a separate measurement we determine the geometry of a silicon nitride SPM tip. The measured radius, 4-fold symmetry, included angle, and tilt are all consistent with expectations for such a tip. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.
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