Scanning thermal microscopy (SThM) has enabled direct observation of thermal phenomena at the nanometer scale. The superior spatial resolution makes SThM attractive for thermally probing electronic and optoelectronic devices as well as nano-structures. In the past, lack of thermal design of SThM probes led to inaccuracy and artifacts in the thermal images. Based on the knowledge of various tip-sample heat transfer mechanisms, this paper presents a one-dimensional model to estimate the temperature distribution in the probe tip. Based on the model, new thermal probes that have SiO2 tips, SiNx cantilevers, and Pt-Cr thermocouple junctions at the tip ends have been designed and fabricated. The fabrication process consists of only wafer-stage processing steps with more than 100 probes fabricated on a single wafer. The thermal probes have been successfully used for topographical imaging and to measure the intensity profile of a focused laser spot.

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