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Rev Sci Instrum. 2014 Apr;85(4):043707. doi: 10.1063/1.4871436.

Frequency-modulated atomic force microscopy operation by imaging at the frequency shift minimum: the dip-df mode.

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Institut für Physikalische Chemie, Fachbereich Chemie, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, Duesbergweg 10-14, 55099 Mainz, Germany.


In frequency modulated non-contact atomic force microscopy, the change of the cantilever frequency (Δf) is used as the input signal for the topography feedback loop. Around the Δf(z) minimum, however, stable feedback operation is challenging using a standard proportional-integral-derivative (PID) feedback design due to the change of sign in the slope. When operated under liquid conditions, it is furthermore difficult to address the attractive interaction regime due to its often moderate peakedness. Additionally, the Δf signal level changes severely with time in this environment due to drift of the cantilever frequency f0 and, thus, requires constant adjustment. Here, we present an approach overcoming these obstacles by using the derivative of Δf with respect to z as the input signal for the topography feedback loop. Rather than regulating the absolute value to a preset setpoint, the slope of the Δf with respect to z is regulated to zero. This new measurement mode not only makes the minimum of the Δf(z) curve directly accessible, but it also benefits from greatly increased operation stability due to its immunity against f0 drift. We present isosurfaces of the Δf minimum acquired on the calcite CaCO3(101̅4) surface in liquid environment, demonstrating the capability of our method to image in the attractive tip-sample interaction regime.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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