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The performance of atomic force microscopy cantilevers, as measured by the resonant frequency and spring constant, is directly dependent on the shape of the cantilever. Here we have improved the performance of conventional silicon nitride cantilevers by using focused ion beam milling to minimize the width of the cantilever legs. The resonant frequency in solution for any given spring constant is increased by two- to threefold, and the thermal noise in a given bandwidth is correspondingly reduced. © 2001 American Institute of Physics.