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Issue 7, 2012
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Spatial horizons in amplitude and frequency modulation atomic force microscopy

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Abstract

In dynamic atomic force microscopy (AFM) the cantilever is vibrated and its dynamics are monitored to probe the sample with nanoscale and atomic resolution. Amplitude and frequency modulation atomic force microscopy (AM-AFM and FM-AFM) have established themselves as the most powerful methods in the field. Nevertheless, it is still debatable whether one or the other technique is preferred in a given medium or experiment. Here, we quantitatively establish and compare the limitations in resolution of both techniques by introducing the concept of spatial horizon (SH) and quantifying it. The SH is the limiting spatial boundary beyond which collective atomic interactions do not affect the detection parameters of a given feedback system. We show that while an FM-AFM feedback can resolve a single atom or atomic defect where an AM feedback might fail, relative contrast is in fact equivalent for both feedback systems. That is, if the AM feedback could detect sufficiently small amplitude shifts and there was no noise, the detection of single atoms or atomic defects would be equivalent in AM-AFM and FM-AFM.

Graphical abstract: Spatial horizons in amplitude and frequency modulation atomic force microscopy

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Publication details

The article was received on 16 Dec 2011, accepted on 17 Jan 2012 and first published on 26 Jan 2012


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C2NR12012G
Citation: Nanoscale, 2012,4, 2463-2469
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    Spatial horizons in amplitude and frequency modulation atomic force microscopy

    J. Font, S. Santos, V. Barcons, N. H. Thomson, A. Verdaguer and M. Chiesa, Nanoscale, 2012, 4, 2463
    DOI: 10.1039/C2NR12012G

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