Scanning Capacitance Microscopy

Scanning Capacitance Microscopy is kind of dynamic EFM. Generally [1] in EFM. the cantilever is biased directly by Vtip=Vdc + Vac sin(wt), where Vac is referred to as the driving voltage. Scanning is executed on some height h above the sample surface in according with the profile defined during the first scanning in Semicontact mode. The capacitive force Fcap(z) between the tip and a sample surface at potential Vs is

Fcap(z) =(1/2) (Vtip - Vs)2(dC/dz)

where C(z) is the tip-surface capacitance dependent on tip geometry, surface topography and tip-surface separation z.

Second harmonic of the capacitive force depends only on (dC/dz) and Vac

Fcap2w(z) =(1/2) (dC/dz)Vac2 sin(2wt)

and can be used for acquisition additional information, e.g distribution of the surface capacity over the sample. For maximization of the second harmonic oscillations the ac frequency w is adjusted to be equal to half of cantilever resonance frequency wr.


  1. Nanotechnology 12, 485 (2001).
  2. Appl. Phys. Lett. 52, 1103 (1988).
  3. J. Appl. Phys. 61, 4723 (1987).