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The atomic force microscope allows to measure the topography of various materials down to atomic resolution.

A tip at the end of a cantilever is brought close to the surface of the sample. The surface creates a force on the tip, which deflects the cantilever. The measure of this deviation allows to deduce the topography and also various informations on the mechanical and elastic properties of the material.

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Atomic Force Microscopy for the observation of nanostructures.
(J. Chatin, Phototheque CNRS)