Infoscience

Thesis

Micro and nano tools for magnetic field imaging

Scanning probe microscopy has become, nowadays, a branch of microscopy widely used to image surfaces of different specimens. Among the various applications, the magnetic imaging is one of the most exciting scanning probe microscopy techniques. It allows the study of topography of samples at the nanometer scale. The magnetic force microscopy is the best known and the most employed magnetic imaging technique. It has been successfully used for the imaging of various samples but with the major inescapable limitations that it is confined to the surface, non-quantitative and invasive. Techniques such as the scanning Hall probe microscopy (SHPM) and the magnetic resonance force microscopy (MRFM) have emerged, several years later, as promising approaches to overcome these limitations. In this thesis, we present the design, the fabrication and the characterization of, first, micro-Hall sensors on SU-8 cantilevers used for SHPM and, second, of ultrasensitive Si cantilevers used for MRFM experiments. A microfabrication technique has been developed to produce hybrid devices consisting of micro-nano Hall sensors integrated on SU-8 cantilevers. Two materials have been used to produce the Hall sensors. First, bismuth (Bi) was chosen for its low carrier charge density and its negligible surface charge depletion effects so that it should provide sensitive sensors. The second material tested was nickel (Ni), chosen for the dominant effect called the extraordinary Hall effect. The active areas of 5×5, 2×2 and 1×1 µm2 were realized and reproduced with the standard photolithography. Producing submicron Hall sensors required the use of the focused ion beam (FIB) that allowed a decrease of the size of the sensors down to 80×80 nm2. The delicate transferring of the nano sensors on the polymer cantilevers was successful. Bi micro-Hall sensors have shown a fragility making them delicate to handle. However, the Ni micro-Hall sensors had an excellent functionality. Their characterization has shown sensors with a low sensitivity compensated by the high applied current providing a high magnetic field resolution. The magnetic field images were carried out using the Ni micro-Hall sensors. They had a high stability during the imaging experiments. The spatial resolution was set by the sensors active area limited to the micro-meter scale. However, the magnetic field resolution is better than 1 T/√Hz a result comparable to the high resolution offered by the semiconductors. Single crystal silicon cantilevers have been fabricated for use in MRFM experiments. Also, cantilevers with integrated micro-magnets have been successfully produced. The developed microfabrication technique has allowed a high yield production (up to 70%). The softest fabricated cantilevers are 0.34 µm thick, 500 µm long and 10 µm wide. These cantilevers have been characterized under vacuum conditions (1×10-6 mbar). The resonance frequencies and the quality factors were measured using the frequency sweep or noise methods and both provided the same results. The Rayleigh method that we have adapted to the cantilevers geometry, made it possible to estimate the theoretical resonance frequencies with a good approximation and the calculated values fit well with the measured ones. All the cantilevers have a quality factor above 20000 and the force sensitivity achieved was between 10-16 and 10-17 N/√Hz A mathematical model has been developed based on the motion equation of a harmonic oscillator under the influence of a magnetic field. The model was studied to find the expression of the resonance frequency of cantilevers with integrated magnetic tips in the presence of a parallel or a perpendicular magnetic field. The shift in frequency due to the presence of the applied magnetic field depended on the magnetic tip magnetization. The measurement of the frequency shift should permit the calculation of the magnetization of these micro-magnets directly integrated on the cantilevers. The probes that we have realized represent micro and nano tools suitable for the magnetic field imaging that can be done with the SHPM and MRFM techniques.

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