From force curves to surface nanomechanical properties
Surface science, which spans the fields of chemistry, physics, biology and materials science, requires information to be obtained on the local properties and property variations across a surface. This has resulted in the development of different scanning probe methods that allow the measurement of local chemical composition and local electrical and mechanical properties. These techniques have led to rapid advancement in fundamental science with applications in areas such as composite materials, corrosion protection and wear resistance. In this perspective article, we focussed on the branch of scanning probe methods that allows the determination of surface nanomechanical properties. We discussed some different AFM-based modes that were used for these measurements and provided illustrative examples of the type of information that could be obtained. We also discussed some of the difficulties encountered during such studies.