John Melcher

National Institute of Standards and Technology, GAI, Maryland, United States

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Publications (26)

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    John Melcher · Julian Stirling · Gordon A Shaw
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: qPlus sensors are widely used to measure forces at the atomic scale, however, confidence in these measurements is limited by inconsistent reports of the spring constant of the sensor and complications from finite tip heights. Here we combine a numerical investigation of the force reconstruction with an experimental characterization of the flexural mechanics of the qPlus sensor. Numerical studies reveal significant errors in reconstructed force for tip heights exceeding 400 μm or one sixth of the cantilever length. Experimental results with a calibrated nanoindenter reveal excellent agreement with an Euler-Bernoulli beam model for the sensor. Prior to the attachment of a tip, measured spring constants of 1902 ± 29 N/m are found to be in agreement with theoretical predictions for the geometry and material properties of the sensor once a peaked ridge in the beam cross section is included. We further develop a correction necessary to adjust the spring constant for the size and placement of the tip.
    Full-text Article · Oct 2015 · Beilstein Journal of Nanotechnology
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We present an optomechanical accelerometer with high dynamic range, high bandwidth and read-out noise levels below 8 {\mu}g/$\sqrt{\mathrm{Hz}}$. The straightforward assembly and low cost of our device make it a prime candidate for on-site reference calibrations and autonomous navigation. We present experimental data taken with a vacuum sealed, portable prototype and deduce the achieved bias stability and scale factor accuracy. Additionally, we present a comprehensive model of the device physics that we use to analyze the fundamental noise sources and accuracy limitations of such devices.
    Full-text Article · Apr 2015 · Metrologia
  • F.G. Cervantes · O. Gerberding · J. Melcher · [...] · J.M. Taylor
    Article · Jan 2015
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    John Melcher · Julian Stirling · Felipe Guzman Cervantes · [...] · Gordon A. Shaw
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We report the development of an ultrasensitive optomechanical sensor designed to improve the accuracy and precision of force measurements with atomic force microscopy. The sensors reach quality factors of 4.3x10^6 and force resolution on the femtonewton scale at room temperature. Self-calibration of the sensor is accomplished using radiation pressure to create a reference force. Self-calibration enables in situ calibration of the sensor in extreme environments, such as cryogenic ultra-high vacuum. The senor technology presents a viable route to force measurements at the atomic scale with uncertainties below the percent level.
    Full-text Article · Oct 2014 · Applied Physics Letters
  • J. Melcher · A.R. Champneys · D.J. Wagg
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The problem of an Euler-Bernoulli cantilever beam whose free end impacts with a point constraint is revisited from the point of view of modal analysis. It is shown that there is non-uniqueness of consistent impact laws for a given modal truncation. Moreover, taking an N-mode compliant, bilinear formulation and passing to the rigid limit leads to a sequence of impact models that does not converge as N--> ∞. The dynamics of such truncated models are studied numerically and found to give rise to quite different dynamics depending on the number of degrees of freedom taken. The simulations are compared with results from simple experiments that show a propensity for multiple-tap dynamics, in which higher-order modes lead to rapidly cycling intermittent contact. The conclusion reached is that, to derive an accurate model, one needs to avoid the impact limit altogether, and take sufficiently many modes in the formulation to match the actual stiffness of the constraining stop.
    Article · Jun 2013 · Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society A Mathematical Physical and Engineering Sciences
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    John Melcher · Alan R Champneys · David J Wagg
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The problem of an Euler-Bernoulli cantilever beam whose free end impacts with a point constraint is revisited from the point of view of modal analysis. It is shown that there is non-uniqueness of consistent impact laws for a given modal truncation. Moreover, taking an N-mode compliant, bilinear formulation and passing to the rigid limit leads to a sequence of impact models that does not converge as . The dynamics of such truncated models are studied numerically and found to give rise to quite different dynamics depending on the number of degrees of freedom taken. The simulations are compared with results from simple experiments that show a propensity for multiple-tap dynamics, in which higher-order modes lead to rapidly cycling intermittent contact. The conclusion reached is that, to derive an accurate model, one needs to avoid the impact limit altogether, and take sufficiently many modes in the formulation to match the actual stiffness of the constraining stop. mechanical engineering, applied mathematics.
    Full-text Article · May 2013 · Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society A Mathematical Physical and Engineering Sciences
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    John Melcher · David Martínez-Martín · Miriam Jaafar · [...] · Arvind Raman
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The recent achievement of atomic resolution with dynamic atomic force microscopy (dAFM) [Fukuma et al., Appl. Phys. Lett. 2005, 87, 034101], where quality factors of the oscillating probe are inherently low, challenges some accepted beliefs concerning sensitivity and resolution in dAFM imaging modes. Through analysis and experiment we study the performance metrics for high-resolution imaging with dAFM in liquid media with amplitude modulation (AM), frequency modulation (FM) and drive-amplitude modulation (DAM) imaging modes. We find that while the quality factors of dAFM probes may deviate by several orders of magnitude between vacuum and liquid media, their sensitivity to tip-sample forces can be remarkable similar. Furthermore, the reduction in noncontact forces and quality factors in liquids diminishes the role of feedback control in achieving high-resolution images. The theoretical findings are supported by atomic-resolution images of mica in water acquired with AM, FM and DAM under similar operating conditions.
    Full-text Article · Mar 2013 · Beilstein Journal of Nanotechnology
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We introduce drive-amplitude-modulation atomic force microscopy as a dynamic mode with outstanding performance in all environments from vacuum to liquids. As with frequency modulation, the new mode follows a feedback scheme with two nested loops: The first keeps the cantilever oscillation amplitude constant by regulating the driving force, and the second uses the driving force as the feedback variable for topography. Additionally, a phase-locked loop can be used as a parallel feedback allowing separation of the conservative and nonconservative interactions. We describe the basis of this mode and present some examples of its performance in three different environments. Drive-amplutide modulation is a very stable, intuitive and easy to use mode that is free of the feedback instability associated with the noncontact-to-contact transition that occurs in the frequency-modulation mode.
    Full-text Article · Apr 2012 · Beilstein Journal of Nanotechnology
  • Daniel Kiracofe · John Melcher · Arvind Raman
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: IntroductionReview of Fundamentals of Cantilever OscillationHydrodynamics of Cantilevers in LiquidsMethods of Dynamic ExcitationDynamics of Cantilevers Interacting with Samples in LiquidsOutlookReferences
    Article · Apr 2012
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    Dataset: Figure S2
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: True atomic resolution of a mica surface immersed in a physiological buffer. The cantilever used to acquired the image has a stiffness as low as 0.6 N/m. Oscillation amplitude 0.7 nm, scan speed 600 nm/s, frequency shift 93 Hz. (TIF)
    Full-text Dataset · Jan 2012
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Structural Biology (SB) techniques are particularly successful in solving virus structures. Taking advantage of the symmetries, a heavy averaging on the data of a large number of specimens, results in an accurate determination of the structure of the sample. However, these techniques do not provide true single molecule information of viruses in physiological conditions. To answer many fundamental questions about the quickly expanding physical virology it is important to develop techniques with the capability to reach nanometer scale resolution on both structure and physical properties of individual molecules in physiological conditions. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) fulfills these requirements providing images of individual virus particles under physiological conditions, along with the characterization of a variety of properties including local adhesion and elasticity. Using conventional AFM modes is easy to obtain molecular resolved images on flat samples, such as the purple membrane, or large viruses as the Giant Mimivirus. On the contrary, small virus particles (25-50 nm) cannot be easily imaged. In this work we present Frequency Modulation atomic force microscopy (FM-AFM) working in physiological conditions as an accurate and powerful technique to study virus particles. Our interpretation of the so called "dissipation channel" in terms of mechanical properties allows us to provide maps where the local stiffness of the virus particles are resolved with nanometer resolution. FM-AFM can be considered as a non invasive technique since, as we demonstrate in our experiments, we are able to sense forces down to 20 pN. The methodology reported here is of general interest since it can be applied to a large number of biological samples. In particular, the importance of mechanical interactions is a hot topic in different aspects of biotechnology ranging from protein folding to stem cells differentiation where conventional AFM modes are already being used.
    Full-text Article · Jan 2012 · PLoS ONE
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    Dataset: Text S1
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A discussion of technical details of the manuscript can be found in the supplementary information text. (DOCX)
    Full-text Dataset · Jan 2012
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    Dataset: Figure S1
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: φ29 topographies obtained with high stiffness cantilevers (nominal stiffness 40 N/m). The dimension of the virus particles can be seen in the lines profiles. (TIF)
    Full-text Dataset · Jan 2012
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    Dataset: Figure S3
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Feedback scheme for FM-AFM. (TIF)
    Full-text Dataset · Jan 2012
  • Daniel Kiracofe · John Melcher · Arvind Raman
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Dynamic atomic force microscopy (dAFM) continues to grow in popularity among scientists in many different fields, and research on new methods and operating modes continues to expand the resolution, capabilities, and types of samples that can be studied. But many promising increases in capability are accompanied by increases in complexity. Indeed, interpreting modern dAFM data can be challenging, especially on complicated material systems, or in liquid environments where the behavior is often contrary to what is known in air or vacuum environments. Mathematical simulations have proven to be an effective tool in providing physical insight into these non-intuitive systems. In this article we describe recent developments in the VEDA (virtual environment for dynamic AFM) simulator, which is a suite of freely available, open-source simulation tools that are delivered through the cloud computing cyber-infrastructure of nanoHUB (www.nanohub.org). Here we describe three major developments. First, simulations in liquid environments are improved by enhancements in the modeling of cantilever dynamics, excitation methods, and solvation shell forces. Second, VEDA is now able to simulate many new advanced modes of operation (bimodal, phase-modulation, frequency-modulation, etc.). Finally, nineteen different tip-sample models are available to simulate the surface physics of a wide variety different material systems including capillary, specific adhesion, van der Waals, electrostatic, viscoelasticity, and hydration forces. These features are demonstrated through example simulations and validated against experimental data, in order to provide insight into practical problems in dynamic AFM.
    Article · Jan 2012 · The Review of scientific instruments
  • Jose R Lozano · Daniel Kiracofe · John Melcher · [...] · Arvind Raman
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Standard spring constant calibration methods are compared when applied to higher eigenmodes of cantilevers used in dynamic atomic force microscopy (dAFM). Analysis shows that Sader's original method (Sader et al 1999 Rev. Sci. Instrum. 70 3967-9), which relies on a priori knowledge of the eigenmode shape, is poorly suited for the calibration of higher eigenmodes. On the other hand, the thermal noise method (Hutter and Bechhoefer 1993 Rev. Sci. Instrum. 64 1868-73) does not require knowledge of the eigenmode and remains valid for higher eigenmodes of the dAFM probe. Experimental measurements of thermal vibrations in air for three representative cantilevers are provided to support the theoretical results.
    Article · Oct 2010 · Nanotechnology
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    Xin Xu · John Melcher · Arvind Raman
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Existing force spectroscopy methods in tapping mode atomic force microscopy (AFM) such as higher harmonic inversion [M. Stark, R. W. Stark, W. M. Heckl, and R. Guckenberger, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 99, 8473 (2002)] or scanning probe acceleration microscopy [J. Legleiter, M. Park, B. Cusick, and T. Kowalewski, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 103, 4813 (2006)] or integral relations [M. Lee and W. Jhe, Phys. Rev. Lett. 97, 036104 (2006); S. Hu and A. Raman, Nanotechnology 19, 375704 (2008); H. Holscher, Appl. Phys. Lett. 89, 123109 (2006); A. J. Katan, Nanotechnology 20, 165703 (2009)] require and assume as an observable the tip dynamics in a single eigenmode of the oscillating microcantilever. We demonstrate that this assumption can distort significantly the extracted tip-sample interaction forces when applied to tapping mode AFM with soft cantilevers in liquid environments. This exception is due to the fact that under these conditions the second eigenmode is momentarily excited and the observed tip dynamics clearly contains contributions from the fundamental and second eigenmodes. To alleviate this problem, a simple experimental method is proposed to screen the second eigenmode contributions in the observed tip deflection signal to allow accurate tip-sample force reconstruction in liquids. The method is implemented experimentally to reconstruct interaction forces on polymer, bacteriorhodopsin membrane, and mica samples in buffer solutions.
    Full-text Article · Jan 2010 · Physical review. B, Condensed matter
  • John Melcher · Arvind Raman
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The ability to simultaneously map variations in topography and composition (local stiffness, adhesion, charge, hydrophillicity/phobicity, viscoelasticity) of samples in ambient and liquid environments has made dynamic atomic force microscopy (dAFM) a powerful tool for nanoscale metrology. In ambient and vacuum environments, quality factors (Q-factors) of the fundamental resonance are typically large, and the contrast channels in dAFM are relatively well understood. In liquid environments, however, Q-factors are typically low due to cantilever interactions with the surrounding viscous liquid, which introduces a new class of nonlinear dynamics that is accompanied by new contrast channels, such as, higher harmonic amplitudes and phases. In particular, we find that the interpretation of the traditional contrast channels is quite different in low-Q environments compared to high-Q environments. We present a theoretical investigation of the contrast channels in dAFM in the context of frequency modulation and tapping mode dAFM with an emphasis on low-Q environments.
    Conference Paper · Jan 2010
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    John Melcher · Carolina Carrasco · Xin Xu · [...] · Arvind Raman
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We study the physical origins of phase contrast in dynamic atomic force microscopy (dAFM) in liquids where low-stiffness microcantilever probes are often used for nanoscale imaging of soft biological samples with gentle forces. Under these conditions, we show that the phase contrast derives primarily from a unique energy flow channel that opens up in liquids due to the momentary excitation of higher eigenmodes. Contrary to the common assumption, phase-contrast images in liquids using soft microcantilevers are often maps of short-range conservative interactions, such as local elastic response, rather than tip-sample dissipation. The theory is used to demonstrate variations in local elasticity of purple membrane and bacteriophage phi 29 virions in buffer solutions using the phase- contrast images.
    Full-text Article · Aug 2009 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
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    Xin Xu · John Melcher · Sudipta Basak · [...] · Arvind Raman
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Atomic Force microscope (AFM) cantilevers commonly used for imaging soft biological samples in liquids experience a momentary excitation of the higher eigenmodes at each tap. This transient response is very sensitive to the local sample elasticity under gentle imaging conditions because the higher eigenmode time period is comparable to the tip-sample contact time. By mapping the momentary excitation response, we demonstrate a new scanning probe spectroscopy capable of resolving with high sensitivity the variations in the elasticity of soft biological materials in liquids.
    Full-text Article · Mar 2009 · Physical Review Letters