A new scanning electrochemical microscopy (SECM) tip positioning method that allows surface topography and activity to be resolved simultaneously and independently is presented. The tip, controlled by a piezoelectric positioner operated in closed loop, is oscillated normal to the substrate surface. Changes in the oscillation amplitude, caused by the intermittent contact (IC) of the tip with the substrate surface, are used as a feedback signal to control the tip height. The method is illustrated with amperometric feedback approach curve measurements to inert (insulating) and active (conducting) substrates using 12.5 and 1 μm radii Pt disk electrodes. Imaging of gold bands on a glass substrate demonstrates the capabilities for simultaneous topography and activity mapping. The prospect for using IC methodology more widely with other types of tips is highlighted briefly.
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