Recently, atomic force microscopy (AFM) has been widely used for nanomachining and fabrication of micro/ nanodevices. This paper describes the development and validation of computational models for AFM-based nanomachining (nanoindentation and nanoscratching). The Molecular Dynamics (MD) technique is used to model and simulate mechanical indentation and scratching at the nanoscale in the case of gold and silicon. The simulation allows for the prediction of indentation forces and the friction force at the interface between an indenter and a substrate. The effects of tip curvature and speed on indentation force and friction coefficient are investigated. The material deformation and indentation geometry are extracted based on the final locations of atoms, which are displaced by the rigid tool. In addition to modeling, an AFM was used to conduct actual indentation at the nanoscale, and provide measurements to validate the predictions from the MD simulation. The AFM provides resolution on nanometer (lateral) and angstrom (vertical) scales. A three-sided pyramid indenter (with a radius of curvature ∼ 50 nm) is raster scanned on top of the surface and in contact with it. It can be observed from the MD simulation results that the indentation force increases as the depth of indentation increases, but decreases as the scratching speed increases. On the other hand, the friction coefficient is found to be independent of scratching speed.

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