Probing viscoelastic response of soft material surfaces at the nanoscale†
We study the interaction between an AFM tip and a soft viscoelastic surface. Using a multifrequency method we measure the amplitude-dependence of the cantilever dynamic force quadratures, which clearly show the effect of finite relaxation time of the viscoelastic surface. A model is introduced which treats the tip and surface as a two-body dynamic problem with a nonlinear interaction depending on their separation. We find good agreement between simulations of this model and experimental data on polymer blend samples for a variety of materials and measurement conditions.