Thermochemical nanolithography fabrication and atomic force microscopy characterization of functional nanostructures
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This thesis presents the development of a novel atomic force microscope (AFM) based nanofabrication technique termed as thermochemical nanolithography (TCNL). TCNL uses a resistively heated AFM cantilever to thermally activate chemical reactions on a surface with nanometer resolution. This technique can be used for fabrication of functional nanostructures that are appealing for various applications in nanofluidics, nanoelectronics, nanophotonics, and biosensing devices. This thesis research is focused on three main objectives. The first objective is to study the fundamentals of TCNL writing aspects. We have conducted a systematic study of the heat transfer mechanism using finite element analysis modeling, Raman spectroscopy, and local glass transition measurement. In addition, based on thermal kinetics analysis, we have identified several key factors to achieve high resolution fabrication of nanostructures during the TCNL writing process. The second objective is to demonstrate the use of TCNL on a variety of systems and thermochemical reactions. We show that TCNL can be employed to (1) modify the wettability of a polymer surface at the nanoscale, (2) fabricate nanoscale templates on polymer films for assembling nano-objects, such as proteins and DNA, (3) fabricate conjugated polymer semiconducting nanowires, and (4) reduce graphene oxide with nanometer resolution. The last objective is to characterize the TCNL nanostructures using AFM based methods, such as friction force microscopy, phase imaging, electric force microscopy, and conductive AFM. We show that they are useful for in situ characterization of nanostructures, which is particularly challenging for conventional macroscopic analytical tools, such as Raman spectroscopy, IR spectroscopy, and fluorescence microscopy.