Many devices and instruments such as magnetic hard disk drives and atomic force microscopes (AFM) rely on the stable operation of their small probing heads at nanoscale gaps. Due to the small scale of the probing heads, the force interactions (Casimir force and electrostatic force) between the small probes and the surrounding become more significant. The local heating caused by read/write electric currents in hard disk drives or probing laser beams in AFM on the probes inevitably leads to the heat transfer between them and the surrounding. The nanoscale heat and force interactions play a critical role in the performances of those instruments. In this paper, we use a bimaterial AFM cantilever to measure the nanoscale air heat conduction, radiation and force between a microsphere and a substrate. The resulting “heat transfer-distance” and “force-distance” curves clearly show the strong dependence of nanoscale interactions with gap distances.

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