The research conducted by the Clark Group focuses on Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) instrumentation development. Specifically, we focus on developing appropriate control methodologies and signal processing techniques for advanced AFM research. By studying the AFM from a dynamic systems, measurements, and controls approach, we are able to customize the instrument and controller architecture for specific applications thereby increasing the capabilities and sensitivity of the instrument. As part of this research, the Clark group has constructed two custom multi-axis AFMs and numerous software packages to operate the equipment.
The group has also worked on quantifying and controlling the current that passes from an AFM tip to a sample during anodization nanolithography or local anodic oxidation. During this technique, the cantilever tip locally oxidizes metallic and semiconducting substrates. By utilizing CAD with our custom AFM software, we have developed a method to perform automated nanoscale replication from a design plan. Shown below are three examples of substrates that have been modified using our system and then imaged.