Nanogap based graphene coated AFM tips with high spatial resolution, conductivity and durability†
After one decade of analyzing the intrinsic properties of graphene, interest into the development of graphene-based devices and micro electromechanical systems is increasing. Here, we fabricate graphene-coated atomic force microscope tips by growing the graphene on copper foil and transferring it onto the apex of a commercially available AFM tip. The resulting tip exhibits surprising enhanced resolution in nanoscale electrical measurements. By means of topographic AFM maps and statistical analyses we determine that this superior performance may be related to the presence of a nanogap between the graphene and the tip apex, which reduces the tip radius and tip–sample contact area. In addition, the graphene-coated tips show a low tip–sample interaction, high conductivity and long life times. The novel fabrication-friendly tip could improve the quality and reliability of AFM experiments, while reducing the cost of AFM-based research.