Abstract: Ferromagnetic nanostructures are under considerable interest for producing larger capacity magnetic storage devices. Denser magnetic storage leads to finer magnetic grains and smaller bit size, however, as bit size shrinks it approaches a limit, such that, a single magnetic grain is only capable of holding a single bit of information. Therefore, changes in nanoscale morphology can produce different magnetic properties, so characterizing nanostructures is crucial. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) is a common way to model the morphology of ferromagnetic thin films atop of nanosphere templates. In our research, we used AFM images of polystyrene nanospheres on top of silicon substrates to define the morphology of the AFM tip geometry. We calculated &thetas;L to be approximately 4.30 ± 1.07°, &thetas;R to be approximately 21.14 ± 0.33°, the tip apex radius r to be 37.87 ± 2.43 nm, and a total angle of 25.44° with an error of 15.2% from manufacture specifications. After analyzing the same sample scanned at 4 different angles, 0°, 45°, 90°, and 135°, relative to the cantilever, we determined the optimal scan direction for our samples was 0° relative to the cantilever, due to the geometry of the AFM tip. After scanning several samples containing 600 nm nanospheres with 20 nm and 40 nm of Permalloy thin film deposited on top, the AFM images were obtained. Further research is needed, such as, modification of the geometrical relationship between the tip and the layers atop of the nanospheres to clearly model the structure of Py atop of nanospheres.
Keywords: Atomic force microscope,Morphology,Nanostructures,Permalloy, Thin films