Skip to main content

Kurt Harris

Kurt  Harris

Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering

PhD Student

Contact Information


Scanning Thermal Microscopy (SThM)  Major Professor: Dr. Heng Ban


Thermal property measurements at the nanoscale are important to increasingly common nanoapplications. An atomic force microscope (AFM) equipped with a special thermal tip allows us to thermally probe and map material surfaces at such scales, a technique known as scanning thermal microscopy (SThM). AFM probes can act as either/both heater and temperature detector. The probe temperature depends on several factors related to the heat transfer from the surface, including thermal conductivity of samples and the ambient convection situation (type of atmosphere or vacuum level). Temperature data allows for calculations of properties such as thermal conductivity. 

Few thermal tips are commercially available; however, published literature contains little information for the unique thermoresistive and thermocouple tips produced by Nanonics Imaging, LTD. Preliminary work is to characterize both of these types of thermal probes. DC and AC measurements (at various frequencies) were taken in contact and at various distances from the surfaces of different materials for atmospheric conditions and under vacuum. A comparison will be made regarding the strengths and weaknesses of these tips to other, more studied tips. Future work will involve using these tips to measure small-scale thermophysical properties of advanced materials.