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Atomic Resolution in Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM)

Abstract

Among different experimental techniques of surface analysis with atomic resolution, the set of techniques broadly known as "scanning probe microscopies" (SPM) stand out. In particular, "scanning tunneling microscopy" (STM) and "atomic force microscopy" (AFM), became very popular techniques in this field. Although atomic and subatomic resolution in STM has been achieved since the 1980's, comparable achievements in AFM are much more recent. For this reason, the development of theoretical and modelling techniques for analyzing and understanding AFM in atomic resolution is a subject of current interest. In this project, we combine a variety of theoretical techniques (from ab initio electronic struture methods to fundamental results in non-equilibrium statistical mechanics) to develop tools for analyzing AFM images in atomic or subatomic resolution, with a particular focus on the "friction force microscopy" (FFM) mode of operation. (AU)