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Dual-pulse photoactivated atomic force microscopy

Park, B., Lee, S., Kwon, J., Kim, W., Jung, S., Kim, C.,
Scientific reports


Photoactivated atomic force microscopy (pAFM), which integrates light excitation and mechanical detection of the deflections of a cantilever tip, has become a widely used tool for probing nanoscale structures. Raising the illuminating laser power is an obvious way to boost the signal-to-noise ratio of pAFM, but strong laser power can damage both the sample and cantilever tip. Here, we demonstrate a dual-pulse pAFM (DP-pAFM) that avoids this problem by using two laser pulses with a time delay. The first laser heats the light absorber and alters the local Grüneisen parameter value, and the second laser boosts the mechanical vibration within the thermal relaxation time. Using this technique, we successfully mapped the optical structures of small-molecule semiconductor films. Of particular interest, DP-pAFM clearly visualized nanoscale cracks in organic semiconductor films, which create crucial problems for small-molecule semiconductors. DP-pAFM opens a promising new optical avenue for studying complex nanoscale phenomena in various research fields.

DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-96646-4