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Perturbations to the thermally driven motion of an atomic force microscope (AFM) cantilever can be used to probe tip-sample interactions. One limitation of such thermal-noise-based measurements is that they fail for large attractive interactions with force gradients that exceed the stiffness of the cantilever. In such cases, the AFM tip jumps to the surface and is trapped there for long periods of time. Here, we describe an approach to overcome this limitation by driving the AFM cantilever with white noise, essentially simulating high temperatures. Effective temperatures of several thousand Kelvin are easily obtained. We show that this approach allows the AFM tip to “thermally” sample interactions that would otherwise capture the tip. © 2000 American Institute of Physics.