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Knowledge required for a research project using Kelvin Probe

  1. Jul 16, 2011 #1
    Alright so a professor took me up for a research project which makes use of a Kelvin Probe. However I only have a year of introductory Physics under my belt (Mechanics and Waves & Oscillations). I started studying some of E&M which I assumed I needed to know, this summer but didn't get too far, only the first 3 chapters (Forces & Fields, Gauss' Law, and Electric Potential). I wanna know what are the topic I should be focusing on in order to understand what I'm doing with the probe. I realize that ideally I should have a good mastery of E&M but I'm gonna start using the probe on Monday so I don't really have time to do that. The experiment has to do with finding surfaces with inhomogeneous work functions or something of the like. Thanks for answering.
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  3. Jul 16, 2011 #2


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    You need to learn a bit of solid state physics. You need to know the meaning of work function, Fermi level (or energy), the energy bands for metals, semiconductors, insulators, etc. It gets a bit more involved depending on what you are using. You didn't indicate if you will be using a dedicated Kelvin probe, or if you are using something like an STM or AFM that can be converted into the Kelvin probe mode. You also didn't say on what material you will be measuring, or if you have to do your own calibration of the Kelvin probe tip. A measurement done on metals will give you directly the work function, whereas a measurement on a semiconductor will give you the Fermi level.

    Of course, you should also learn about the physics and operations of a Kelvin Probe. Look at this article if you haven't seen it:


  4. Jul 16, 2011 #3
    Well the one we're using is called a Scanning Kelvin Probe (so its dedicated) and the first measurement we tried to do was a material with gold coating (we weren't able to do it because the tip wasn't oscillating for some reason, its fixed now). I think we're gonna be doing most of the measurements on metals. And we're using a software to control the tip, i.e the amplitude of oscillations. Also are there any prereqs for learning the material you stated and furthermore are you aware of any good resources which teach them (online or textbooks)? I would greatly appreciate it.
  5. Jul 17, 2011 #4
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