Wear-resistant coatings composed of laser ablated hard carbon films, are deposited by pulsed laser ablation using visible light, on instruments such as microscope tips and micro-surgical tools. Hard carbon, known as diamond-like carbon (DLC), films produced by pulsed laser ablation using visible light enhances the abrasion resistance, wear characteristics, and lifetimes of small tools or instruments, such as small, sharp silicon tips used in atomic probe microscopy without significantly affecting the sharpness or size of these devices. For example, a 10-20 nm layer of diamond-like carbon on a standard silicon atomic force microscope (AFM) tip, enables the useful operating life of the tip to be increased by at least twofold. Moreover, the low inherent friction coefficient of the DLC coating leads to higher resolution for AFM tips operating in the contact mode.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.