Patents Assigned to Infinitesima Limited
  • Patent number: 10585114
    Abstract: A scanning probe system with a probe comprising a cantilever extending from a base to a free end, and a probe tip carried by the free end of the cantilever. A first driver is provided with a first driver input, the first driver arranged to drive the probe in accordance with a first drive signal at the first driver input. A second driver is provided with a second driver input, the second driver arranged to drive the probe in accordance with a second drive signal at the second driver input. A control system is arranged to control the first drive signal so that the first driver drives the base of the cantilever repeatedly towards and away from a surface of a sample in a series of cycles. A surface detector arranged to generate a surface signal for each cycle when it detects an interaction of the probe tip with the surface of the sample.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 16, 2019
    Date of Patent: March 10, 2020
    Assignee: INFINITESIMA LIMITED
    Inventor: Andrew Humphris
  • Patent number: 10401381
    Abstract: A scanning probe system with a probe comprising a cantilever extending from a base to a free end, and a probe tip carried by the free end of the cantilever. A first driver is provided with a first driver input, the first driver arranged to drive the probe in accordance with a first drive signal at the first driver input. A second driver is provided with a second driver input, the second driver arranged to drive the probe in accordance with a second drive signal at the second driver input. A control system is arranged to control the first drive signal so that the first driver drives the base of the cantilever repeatedly towards and away from a surface of a sample in a series of cycles. A surface detector arranged to generate a surface signal for each cycle when it detects an interaction of the probe tip with the surface of the sample.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 10, 2016
    Date of Patent: September 3, 2019
    Assignee: INFINITESIMA LIMITED
    Inventor: Andrew Humphris
  • Patent number: 10254306
    Abstract: A method of performing a measurement routine on a probe, the probe comprising a cantilever extending from a support. An interferometer is operated to reflect a sensing beam with the cantilever thereby generating a reflected sensing beam and combine the reflected sensing beam with a reference beam to generate an interferogram. The interferometer generates a first interference measurement value at a first measurement time by measuring the interferogram and a second interference measurement value at a second measurement time by measuring the interferogram, The cantilever deforms to form a different shape between the measurement times. A change in height of the probe between the measurement times is estimated in accordance with a difference between the first and second interference measurement values, and corrected in accordance with the difference in shape of the cantilever between the measurement times.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 29, 2013
    Date of Patent: April 9, 2019
    Assignee: INFINITESIMA LIMITED
    Inventor: Andrew Humphris
  • Patent number: 10107834
    Abstract: A measurement system comprising: a radiation source arranged to generated a detection beam; a probe; and a probe positioning system arranged to move the probe from an un-aligned position in which it is not illuminated by the detection beam, to an aligned position in which it is illuminated by the detection beam and the detection beam is reflected by the probe to generate a reflected detection beam. A scanner generates a relative scanning motion between the probe and a sample, the sample being aligned with the probe and interacting with the probe during the relative scanning motion. A sensor detects the reflected detection beam during the relative scanning motion to collect a first data set from the sample. A second device is provided for modifying the sample or obtaining a second data set from the sample. A sample stage is arranged to move the sample in accordance with an offset vector stored in a memory so that it becomes un-aligned from the probe and aligned with the second device.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 20, 2017
    Date of Patent: October 23, 2018
    Assignee: INFINITESIMA LIMITED
    Inventor: Andrew Humphris
  • Patent number: 9939460
    Abstract: A method of operating a scanning probe system that includes a probe support and probes carried by the probe support is disclosed. Each probe includes a cantilever extending from the support to a free end and a tip carried by the free end. The system is operated to perform interaction cycles, each including in an approach phase, moving the support so that the tips move together towards the sample surface; in a detection step, generating a surface signal on detection of an interaction of the tip(s) of a first subset of the probes with the sample surface before the rest of the probes have interacted with the sample; in a response step changing a shape of the cantilever(s) of the first subset in response to the generation of the surface signal; and in a retract phase moving the support so that the tips retract together away from the sample surface.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 8, 2017
    Date of Patent: April 10, 2018
    Assignee: INFINITESIMA LIMITED
    Inventor: Andrew Humphris
  • Patent number: 9921240
    Abstract: A probe actuation system has a detection system arranged to measure a position or angle of a probe to generate a detection signal. An illumination system is arranged to illuminate the probe. Varying the illumination of the probe causes the probe to deform which in turn causes the detection signal to vary. A probe controller is arranged to generate a desired value which varies with time. A feedback controller is arranged to vary the illumination of the probe according to the detection signal and the desired value so that the detection signal is driven towards the desired value. The probe controller receives as its inputs a detection signal and a desired value, but unlike conventional feedback systems this desired value varies with time. Such a time-varying desired value enables the probe to be driven so that it follows a trajectory with a predetermined speed. A position or angle of the probe is measured to generate the detection signal and the desired value represents a desired position or angle of the probe.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 27, 2015
    Date of Patent: March 20, 2018
    Assignee: INFINITESIMA LIMITED
    Inventor: Andrew Humphris
  • Patent number: 9874582
    Abstract: A probe system including a probe with first and second arms and a probe tip carried by the first and second arms, the probe tip having a height and a tilt angle; an illumination system arranged to deform the probe by illuminating the first arm at a first actuation location and the second arm at a second actuation location each with a respective illumination power; and an actuation controller arranged to independently control the illumination power at each actuation location in order to control the height and tilt angle of the probe tip.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 27, 2015
    Date of Patent: January 23, 2018
    Assignee: INFINITESIMA LIMITED
    Inventor: Andrew Humphris
  • Patent number: 9784760
    Abstract: A scanning probe microscope system. A sample stage is provided along with a microscope arranged to collect data with a probe carried by the microscope from a sample carried by the sample stage. A probe/sample exchange mechanism is arranged to exchange the probe carried by the microscope with a new probe, and is also arranged to exchange the sample carried by the sample stage with a new sample.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 6, 2014
    Date of Patent: October 10, 2017
    Assignee: INFINITESIMA LIMITED
    Inventor: Andrew Humphris
  • Patent number: 9739798
    Abstract: A method of detecting the positions of a plurality of probes. An input beam is directed into an optical device and transformed into a plurality of output beamlets which are not parallel with each other. Each output beamlet is split into a sensing beamlet and an associated reference beamlet. Each of the sensing beamlets is directed onto an associated one of the probes with an objective lens to generate a reflected beamlet which is combined with its associated reference beamlet to generate an interferogram. Each interferogram is measured to determine the position of an associated one of the probes. A similar method is used to actuate a plurality of probes. A scanning motion is generated between the probes and the sample. An input beam is directed into an optical device and transformed into a plurality of actuation beamlets which are not parallel with each other.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 28, 2013
    Date of Patent: August 22, 2017
    Assignee: INFINITESIMA LIMITED
    Inventor: Andrew Humphris
  • Patent number: 9599636
    Abstract: A scanning probe microscope comprising: a signal generator providing a drive signal for an actuator to move a probe repeatedly towards and away from a sample. In response to the detection of an interaction of the probe with the sample the drive signal is modified to cause the probe to move away from the sample. The drive signal comprises an approach phase in which an intensity of the drive signal increases to a maximum value; and a retract phase in which the intensity of the drive signal reduces from the maximum value to a minimum value in response to the detection of the surface position. The intensity of the drive signal is held at the minimum value during the retract phase and then increased at the end of the retract phase. The duration of the retract phase is dependent on the maximum value in the approach phase.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 18, 2014
    Date of Patent: March 21, 2017
    Assignee: INFINITESIMA LIMITED
    Inventor: Andrew Humphris
  • Patent number: 9557347
    Abstract: A scanning probe microscope comprising a probe that is mechanically responsive to a driving force. A signal generator provides a drive signal to an actuator that generates the driving force, the drive signal being such as to cause the actuator to move the probe repeatedly towards and away from a sample. A detection system is arranged to output a height signal indicative of a path difference between light reflected from the probe and a height reference beam. Image processing apparatus is arranged to use the height signal to form an image of the sample. Signal processing apparatus is arranged to monitor the probe as the probe approaches a sample and to detect a surface position at which the probe interacts with the sample. In response to detection of the surface position, the signal processing apparatus prompts the signal generator to modify the drive signal.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: January 31, 2012
    Date of Patent: January 31, 2017
    Assignee: INFINITESIMA LIMITED
    Inventor: Andrew Humphris
  • Patent number: 9410982
    Abstract: Various methods of driving a probe of a scanning probe microscope are disclosed. One set of methods distribute the energy of a radiation beam over a wide area of the probe by either scanning the beam or increasing its illumination area. Another method changes the intensity profile of the radiation beam with a diffractive optical element, enabling a more uniform intensity profile across the width of the illumination. Another method uses a diffractive optical element to change the circumferential shape of the radiation beam, and hence the shape of the area illuminated on the probe, in order to match the shape of the probe and hence distribute the energy over a wider area.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 30, 2013
    Date of Patent: August 9, 2016
    Assignee: INFINITESIMA LIMITED
    Inventors: Andrew Humphris, Bin Zhao
  • Patent number: 9389243
    Abstract: A method of actuating a plurality of probes. Each probe may be made of two or more materials with different thermal expansion coefficients which are arranged such that when the probe is illuminated by an actuation beam it deforms to move the probe relative to a sample. Energy is delivered to the probes by sequentially illuminating them with an actuation beam via an objective lens in a series of scan sequences. Two or more of the probes are illuminated by the actuation beam in each scan sequence and the actuation beam enters the objective lens at a different angle to an optical axis of the objective lens for each probe which is illuminated in a scan sequence. The actuation beam is controlled so that different amounts of energy are delivered to at least two of the probes by the actuation beam during at least one of the scan sequences.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 28, 2013
    Date of Patent: July 12, 2016
    Assignee: INFINITESIMA LIMITED
    Inventor: Andrew Humphris
  • Patent number: 9304144
    Abstract: A method of actuating a plurality of probes by delivering photothermal energy to the probes so that the probes are heated and deform relative to a sample. The photothermal energy is delivered to the probes by: directing an input beam into an optical device; transforming the input beam with the optical device into a plurality of actuation beamlets which are not parallel with each other; and scanning the actuation beamlets across the probes, optionally via an objective lens. A spacing between the actuation beamlets is different to a spacing between the probes so that only a subset (typically only one) of the actuation beamlets illuminates a probe at any instant. As the actuation beamlets scan across the probes the probes are illuminated in an illumination sequence. The actuation beamlets are controlled so that different amounts of photothermal energy are delivered to at least two of the probes during the illumination sequence.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 9, 2013
    Date of Patent: April 5, 2016
    Assignee: INFINITESIMA LIMITED
    Inventors: Andrew Humphris, Andrew Neil Farley
  • Patent number: 9291641
    Abstract: A method of driving a probe of a scanning probe microscope. The intensities of first and second radiation beams are modulated; and the beams are directed simultaneously onto the probe whereby each beam heats the probe and causes the probe to deform, typically by the photothermal effect. The optical system is arranged to direct the centers of the beams onto different locations on the probe. This enables the location of each beam to be chosen to optimize its effect. A lens receives the first and second beams and focuses them onto the probe. A beam combiner is arranged to receive and combine the beams and direct the combined beams towards the probe.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: January 29, 2013
    Date of Patent: March 22, 2016
    Assignee: INFINITESIMA LIMITED
    Inventors: Andrew Humphris, Bin Zhao
  • Patent number: 9222958
    Abstract: Apparatus for illuminating a probe of a probe microscope. A lens is arranged to receive a beam and focus it onto the probe. A scanning system varies over time the angle of incidence at which the beam enters the lens relative to its optical axis. The scanning system is typically arranged to move the beam so as to track movement of the probe, thereby maintaining the location on the probe at which the beam is focused. The scanning system may comprise a beam steering mirror which reflects the beam towards the lens; and a mirror actuator for rotating the beam steering mirror.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: January 29, 2013
    Date of Patent: December 29, 2015
    Assignee: INFINITESIMA LIMITED
    Inventors: Andrew Humphris, Bin Zhao
  • Patent number: 9134340
    Abstract: A method of investigating a sample surface. A probe is brought into close proximity with a first sample and scanned across the first sample. A response of the probe to its interaction with the sample is monitored using a detection system and a first data set is collected indicative of said response. The probe and/or sample is tilted through a tilt angle. The probe is scanned across the first sample or across a second sample after the tilting step, and a response of the probe to its interaction with the scanned sample is monitored using a detection system and a second data set is collected indicative of said response. The method includes the additional step of analyzing the first data set prior to tilting the probe and/or sample in order to determine the tilt angle.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 4, 2012
    Date of Patent: September 15, 2015
    Assignee: INFINITESIMA LIMITED
    Inventor: Andrew Humphris
  • Publication number: 20150219685
    Abstract: A method of actuating a plurality of probes. Each probe may be made of two or more materials with different thermal expansion coefficients which are arranged such that when the probe is illuminated by an actuation beam it deforms to move the probe relative to a sample. Energy is delivered to the probes by sequentially illuminating them with an actuation beam via an objective lens in a series of scan sequences. Two or more of the probes are illuminated by the actuation beam in each scan sequence and the actuation beam enters the objective lens at a different angle to an optical axis of the objective lens for each probe which is illuminated in a scan sequence. The actuation beam is controlled so that different amounts of energy are delivered to at least two of the probes by the actuation beam during at least one of the scan sequences.
    Type: Application
    Filed: August 28, 2013
    Publication date: August 6, 2015
    Applicant: INFINITESIMA LIMITED
    Inventor: Andrew Humphris
  • Publication number: 20140026263
    Abstract: A scanning probe microscope comprising a probe that is mechanically responsive to a driving force. A signal generator provides a drive signal to an actuator that generates the driving force, the drive signal being such as to cause the actuator to move the probe repeatedly towards and away from a sample. A detection system is arranged to output a height signal indicative of a path difference between light reflected from the probe and a height reference beam. Image processing apparatus is arranged to use the height signal to form an image of the sample. Signal processing apparatus is arranged to monitor the probe as the probe approaches a sample and to detect a surface position at which the probe interacts with the sample. In response to detection of the surface position, the signal processing apparatus prompts the signal generator to modify the drive signal.
    Type: Application
    Filed: January 31, 2012
    Publication date: January 23, 2014
    Applicant: Infinitesima Limited
    Inventor: Andrew Humphris
  • Patent number: 7596989
    Abstract: A probe for an atomic force microscope is adapted such that, as a sample is scanned, it experiences a biasing force urging the probe towards the sample. This improves probe tracking of the sample surface and faster scans are possible. This is achieved by either including a biasing element, which is responsive to an externally applied force, on the probe and/or reducing the quality factor of a supporting beam. This biasing element may, for example, be a magnet or an electrically-conducting element. The quality factor may be reduced by coating the beam with a mechanical-energy dissipating material.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 15, 2004
    Date of Patent: October 6, 2009
    Assignee: Infinitesima Limited
    Inventors: Andrew David Laver Humphris, Jamie Kayne Hobbs, Mervyn John Miles