Within the general issue of nanofabrication in our laboratory we are interested in controlling the applied forces during sharp probe interaction with the samples. We have purchased commercial piezoresistive cantilever based dynomometer probes and are planning to build more sensitive ones. Attaching this kind of piezoresistive or mechanical probes to a piezoelectric inertial nanomanipulator allows measurement of the stiffness and compliance of a wide range of materials. If the interaction is made under electron microscopy observation, we can easily gain a practical experience on the interaction of sharp tips with materials.
We show here how a commercial AFM probe can be stressed and used to dig pits on a gold surface (movie), how we can measure the sensitivity of insects’ tactile hair sensors (movie), how we can measure the compliance of carbon nanotubes wool (movie), and even how we can accomplish a micrometric electrical switch based on a carbon nanotubes helical spring (movie).