Zyvex Labs’ Zetcher is an electrochemical etcher that gives users the ability to tune/sharpen tungsten wire with a radius of curvature between 50-250nm roc. In scanning tunneling microscopy, sharper tips offer higher performance, and repeatable tips allow for greater certainty in operational characteristics. The motivation for this instrument is to improve upon commercially available STM tips, which are relatively costly and have undesirable variability in sharpness. In addition, static etching results in inconsistent tip shapes, so consistency in the micron range is also an important requirement.
The Zetcher system comes preloaded with software designed to produce repeatable tungsten tips with a smooth shank and less than 50nm radius of curvature. However, if the user desires to change etched tip characteristics or even etch conditions for materials other than 0.010” polycrystalline tungsten, the control software can be easily modified.
When performing scanning tunneling microscopy, the probe tip will normally require significant conditioning before becoming useful. Zyvex’s reliable tip production can reduce downtime caused by tip uncertainly. Dynamic etching and specially designed circuitry combine to help ensure the production of the sharpest possible probe tip, increasing reliability and uniformity while avoiding the “pagoda” structure that is sometimes created.