Tiptek receives Phase I SBIR funding from the National Institutes of Health
July 1, 2014 - Tiptek received Phase I SBIR funding from the National Institutes of Health for the development of improved probe tips for Biomedical Atomic Force Microscopy via Batch Wafer-Scale. This SBIR grant funds efforts to perfect and scale up a newly patented process for fabricating ultrasharp and hard probe tips for making images of biological specimens. Scanning probe microscopy (SPM) methods such as atomic force microscopy (AFM) create images of surfaces by rastering a probe across the surface. The probe itself consists of a tip (which interacts with the surface) and a body (which supports the tip and provides an externally-readable signal). The tip radius of curvature (ROC) determines the size of the smallest surface feature that may be imaged, and the tip composition establishes its hardness and thus its wear resistance. Currently, there is no known batch process to fabricate tips that are both extremely sharp (ROC lt 5 nm) and hard (gt 15 GPa). A new process invented at the University of Illinois solves these problems.