Mode Coupling in Dynamic Atomic Force Microscopy

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Abstract

Increasing the signal-to-noise ratio in dynamic atomic force microscopy plays a key role in nanomechanical mapping of materials with atomic resolution. In this work, we develop an experimental procedure for increasing the sensitivity of higher harmonics of an atomic-force-microscope cantilever without modifying the cantilever geometry but instead by utilizing dynamical mode coupling between its flexural modes of vibration. We perform experiments on different cantilevers and samples and observe that via nonlinear resonance frequency tuning we can obtain a frequency range where strong modal interactions lead to 7-fold and 16-fold increases in the sensitivity of the 6th and 17th harmonics while reducing sample indentation. We derive a numerical model that captures the observed physics and confirms that nonlinear mode coupling is the reason for the increase of the amplitude of higher harmonics during tip-sample interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number024013
Number of pages11
JournalPhysical Review Applied
Volume15
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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