Journal of Vacuum Science and Technology A: Vacuum, Surfaces and Films

Scanning probe microscopy: Current status and future trends

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The scanning tunneling microscope has shown us that it is possible to control and scan a tip over a conducting surface with angstrom precision. More recently, the same generic principle of the scanning tunneling microscope (STM) has been applied to many other novel scanned probe microscopies. In general all these microscopies come under the class of microscopy called superresolution microscopy—i.e., the spatial resolution achievable is far better than that dictated by the wavelength used to form the image. Following a review of the history behind the development of scanned probe microscopes, is presented work on the recent developments in the areas of atomic force microscopy, magnetic force microscopy, electrostatic force microscopy, near-field thermal microscopy, and near-field acoustic microscopy. These will be highlighted by results from each area which illustrate the potential of these techniques to provide new information about the physical properties of surfaces on a nanometer scale. © 1990, American Vacuum Society. All rights reserved.