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The authors introduce an in situ characterization method of resists used for electron-beam lithography. The technique is based on the application of an atomic force microscope, which is directly mounted below the cathode of an electron-beam lithography system. They demonstrate that patterns irradiated by the electron beam can be efficiently visualized and analyzed in surface topography directly after the electron-beam exposure. This in situ analysis takes place without any development or baking steps and gives access to the chemical (or latent) image of the irradiated resist.