The development of novel characterization techniques is critical for understanding the fundamentals of material systems. Bioinspired systems are regularly implemented but poorly defined through quantitative measurement. In an effort to specify the coupling between multiple domains seen in biologically inspired systems, high resolution measurement systems capable of simultaneously measuring various phenomena such as electrical, chemical, mechanical, or optical signals is required. Scanning electrochemical microscopy (SECM) and shear-force (SF) imaging are nanoscale measurement techniques which examine the electrochemical behavior at a liquid-solid or liquid-liquid interface and simultaneously probe morphological features. It is therefore a suitable measurement technique for understanding biological phenomena.
SF imaging is a high resolution technique, allowing for nanoscale measurement of extensional actuation in materials with high signal to noise ratio. The sensing capabilities of SECM-SF techniques are dependent on the characteristics of the micro-scale electrodes (ultramicroelectrodes or UMEs) used to investigate surfaces. Current limitations to this technique are due to the fabrication process which introduces structural damping, reducing the signal produced. Additionally, despite the high cost of materials and processing, contemporary processes only produce a 10% yield. This article demonstrates a UME fabrication process with a 60% yield as well as improved amplitude (250% increase) and sensitivity (210% increase) during SF imaging. This process is expected to improve the signal to noise ratio of SF-based measurement systems. With these improvements, SECM-SF could become a more suitable technique for measuring cell or tissue activity, corrosion of materials, or coupled mechanics of synthetic faradaic materials.