Thermal Sensing Atomic Force Microscopy (TSAFM) is a promising new technology for topographical imaging and high density data storage that uses the heat transfer between a heated cantilever and the scanned surface as the sensing mechanism. Due to the small operational scan heights (<300 nm), continuum gas phase heat transfer models (as used in previous studies) cannot accurately describe the actual behavior—affecting the accuracy of data interpretation and design of TSAFM systems. In this study two models (Direct Simulation Monte Carlo and a kinetic theory based macro model) are developed to explore the impact of sub-continuum heat conduction on TSAFM operation and to facilitate improved data interpretation and design.

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