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Insights into fluid tapping-mode atomic force microscopy provided by numerical simulations

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2 Author(s)
Legleiter, Justin ; Department of Chemistry, Carnegie Mellon University, 4400 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213 ; Kowalewski, Tomasz

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In an attempt to understand the physics underlying tapping mode atomic force microscopy (TMAFM) operated in fluids, simulations of complete TMAFM experiments were performed based on a cantilever model invoking the damped driven harmonic oscillator with a single degree of freedom with parameters based on real experiments, the most important of which was a low quality factor (Q). Such a low-Q oscillator captures some of the essential features related to operation of TMAFM in fluids, when compared to real experiments. Fluid TMAFM (a low-Q system) is characterized by a highly anharmonic deflection signal when compared to operation in air (a high-Q system). Our model was able to capture this hallmark of fluid TMAFM without the inclusion of more nuanced hydrodynamic effects. Such modeling can aid in the understanding of tip-sample interactions in fluid TMAFM and in the development of techniques to extract meaningful mechanical surface properties from such interactions.

Published in:

Applied Physics Letters  (Volume:87 ,  Issue: 16 )