Resolution of Kelvin probe force microscopy in ultrahigh vacuum: Comparison of experiment and simulation

S. Sadewasser, Th Glatzel, R. Shikler, Y. Rosenwaks, M. Ch Lux-Steiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


An ultrahigh vacuum Kelvin probe force microscope (UHV-KPFM) is used to image the work function change of semiconductor surfaces. We measured the potential drop across the pn-junction on a GaP (1 1 0) surface and the potential variation at steps on the GaAs (1 1 0) surface and determined the resolution for different tip-sample distances. A simple parallel plate capacitor model is used to simulate the effect of varying tip-sample distance on the detection of the electrostatic forces between tip and sample. The model is applied to a potential step and a potential line. The results for different tip-sample distances are compared to those of the experiment; despite small deviations this simple model describes the experimental situation reasonably well. From the simulations it is concluded that for operation of KPFM in air a serious limitation in resolution has to be accepted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-36
Number of pages5
JournalApplied Surface Science
Issue number1-2 SPEC.
StatePublished - 31 Mar 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • AFM
  • Electrostatic force
  • KPFM
  • Work function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry (all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Physics and Astronomy (all)
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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