Atomic force microscopy may be used to image the micro- and nano-scale morphology of a wide range of samples, including both conductive and insulating materials, and both soft and hard materials. Successful imaging requires optimisation of the feedback circuit which controls the cantilever height, and an understanding of the artefacts which may arise due to the nature of the instrument and any noise sources in its immediate environment. Despite these issues, atomic force microscopy is a powerful tool in the emerging discipline of nanotechnology.
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