The emergence of multifrequency force microscopy

Nat Nanotechnol. 2012 Apr 1;7(4):217-26. doi: 10.1038/nnano.2012.38.


In atomic force microscopy a cantilever with a sharp tip attached to it is scanned over the surface of a sample, and information about the surface is extracted by measuring how the deflection of the cantilever - which is caused by interactions between the tip and the surface - varies with position. In the most common form of atomic force microscopy, dynamic force microscopy, the cantilever is made to vibrate at a specific frequency, and the deflection of the tip is measured at this frequency. But the motion of the cantilever is highly nonlinear, and in conventional dynamic force microscopy, information about the sample that is encoded in the deflection at frequencies other than the excitation frequency is irreversibly lost. Multifrequency force microscopy involves the excitation and/or detection of the deflection at two or more frequencies, and it has the potential to overcome limitations in the spatial resolution and acquisition times of conventional force microscopes. Here we review the development of five different modes of multifrequency force microscopy and examine its application in studies of proteins, the imaging of vibrating nanostructures, measurements of ion diffusion and subsurface imaging in cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Equipment Design
  • Forecasting*
  • Image Enhancement / instrumentation*
  • Micro-Electrical-Mechanical Systems / instrumentation*
  • Micromanipulation / instrumentation*
  • Micromanipulation / trends*
  • Microscopy, Atomic Force / instrumentation*
  • Microscopy, Atomic Force / trends*