Scanning electron microscope is not only a versatile visualization and characterization tool for nanomaterials, but it is also widely used for visual feedback during assembly and manipulation of micro- and nanoparticles, novel devices based on 2D and 1D materials, and microrobots. Due to increase in the surface-to-volume ratio, adhesion forces play a significant role in micro- and nanorobotic applications. We investigate the quantitative effect of electron beam irradiation on nanoscale adhesive interactions between different end effector types and plain substrates. For this purpose, we use an interferometry-based force measurement setup integrated into the chamber of a scanning electron microscope capable of a subnano Newton force resolution. We provide quantitative results for the influence of the electron beam on the adhesion forces depending on the exposure dose, geometrical configuration in which it is applied, as well as on the material of the end effector. Simulation results, atomic force microscope adhesion measurements, and measurements with piezoresistive cantilevers serve as references. Our findings indicate that the electron beam influences the adhesive interaction not only in the case of insulating probes but also for well-grounded conducting and semiconducting probes. Its influence can range from several 10% to several 100% in comparison to the adhesion values measured with an atomic force microscope in an ambient atmosphere and no charged particle beam is applied. Moreover, it is shown that the influence of a charged particle beam is a multidimensional phenomenon that depends on several factors such as end effector and substrate material, geometry and aspect ratio of the end effector, geometrical configuration between particle beam and probe–sample arrangement, as well as exposure dose and field of view. We provide recommendations for handling and characterization of micro- and nano-objects using end effectors under the influence of charged particle beams: not to rely on adhesion values acquired in different environmental and exposure conditions, not to expect the application of conductive materials and grounding to completely avoid the effect of charged particle beams, and to be aware that charged particle beams can lower or increase the adhesion force in vacuum depending on material properties, among others.

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