Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group


First Advisor

Yoko Yamakoshi


The atomic force microscope (AFM) has fueled interest in nanotechnology because of its ability to image surfaces at the nanometer level and act as a molecular force sensor. Functionalization of the surface of an AFM tip surface in a stable, controlled manner expands the capabilities of the AFM and enables additional applications in the fields of single molecule force spectroscopy and nanolithography. Two AFM tip functionalizations are described: the assembly of tripodal molecular tips onto gold AFM tips and the photochemical attachment of terminal alkenes to nanocrystalline diamond (NCD) AFM tips.

Two separate tripodal molecules with different linker lengths and a monopodal molecule terminated with biotin were synthesized to attach to a gold AFM tip for single molecule force spectroscopy. The immobilization of these molecules was examined by contact angle measurements, spectroscopic ellipsometry, infrared, and near edge x-ray absorption fine structure (NEXAFS) spectroscopy. All three molecules displayed rupture forces that agreed with previously reported values for the biotin–avidin rupture. The tripodal molecular tip displayed narrower distribution in their force histograms than the monopodal molecular tip. The performance of the tripodal molecular tip was compared to the monopodal molecular tip in single molecule force spectroscopy studies. Over repeated measurements, the distribution of forces for the monopodal molecular tip shifted to lower forces, whereas the distribution for the tripodal molecular tip remained constant throughout. Loading rate dependence and control experiments further indicated that the rupture forces of the tripod molecular tips were specific to the biotin–NeutrAvidin interaction.

The second functionalization method used the photochemical attachment of undecylenic acid to NCD AFM tips. The photochemical attachment of undecylenic acid to hydrogen-terminated NCD wafer surfaces was investigated by contact angle measurements, x-ray photoelectron, infrared, and NEXAFS spectroscopy. The same photochemical method was used to attach molecules to NCD AFM tips. Selective fluorescent labeling and adhesion measurements indicated that the functionalization of undecylenic acid was successful. Studies towards applying NCD AFM tips for nanolithography on a polymer surface are also described.

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Chemistry Commons