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Increasing the imaging speed of tapping mode atomic force microscopy (AFM) has important practical and scientific applications. The scan speed of tapping-mode AFMs is limited by the speed of the feedback loop that maintains a constant tapping amplitude. This article seeks to illuminate these limits to scanning speed. The limits to the feedback loop are: (1) slow transient response of probe; (2) instability limitations of high-quality factor (Q) systems; (3) feedback actuator bandwidth; (4) error signal saturation; and the (5) rms-to-dc converter. The article will also suggest solutions to mitigate these limitations. These limitations can be addressed through integrating a faster feedback actuator as well as active control of the dynamics of the cantilever. © 2002 American Institute of Physics.