An atomic force microscope for nanocantilevers measuring from a few 100 nm to a few mum in length was implemented. The natural frequencies of the nanocantilevers lie in the range of 1 MHz to 1 GHz, and optical detection schemes adapted to their size and frequency range was selected. A helium neon laser with a beat frequency of 890 MHz was used as the laser source. The beat was shifted to 1090 MHz by an acousto-optical-modulator, and used as the carrier for heterodyne laser Doppler measurement. This enabled velocity measurement up to around 100 MHz. The probe beam of the Doppler interferometer was guided to the nanocantilever by a single mode polarization-maintaining optical fiber terminated by a collimating lens, a quarter wave plate, and a focusing lens. Reflected light was collected by the same optics and mixed with the reference beam. Self-excitation of the nanocantilever at its lowest natural frequency was implemented for an amplitude of 1 nm(p-p) at 36 MHz. The Q factor of the cantilever was 8000. Noise effective amplitude of the Doppler interferometer was smaller than 10 pm(p-p) above 10 MHz. Frequency detection was possible for a nanowire measuring 100 nm in width. (C) 2002 American Institute of Physics.
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