A NICE TIP TAP: A Non-linear Identification Tool for Concurrent Evaluation of Tip Condition, Dissipation and Sample Elasticity in Tapping Mode Atomic Force Microscopy


Advances in tapping mode Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) have made it possible to obtain
nanomechanical mapping of soft biological and heterogeneous surfaces. A major current
limitation of this dynamic mode AFM that undermines the reliability of the characterization of
samples is the tip wear and energy loss during intermittent contact with the surface. In order to
resolve this issue, we propose a novel real-time identification technique that assesses
mechanical loss (e.g. tip wear and dissipation) while determining local elasticity. Our innovative
methodology makes use of the inherent non-linearities of AFM and monitors the alterations of
the spectrum of higher harmonics to perform multi-parameter identification and extraction. This
approach will open new standard operation processes in probing techniques by taking into
account tip-induced effects, and paves the way for a nice tip tapping AFM operation.

Keywords: Non-linear Identification; Atomic Force Microscope; Non-linear Vibrations; Tip
Monitoring; Nanomechanical Characterization; Dissipation; Higher Harmonics


Project number


Main applicant

Prof. dr. U. Staufer

Affiliated with

Technische Universiteit Delft, Faculteit Werktuigbouwkunde, Maritieme Techniek en Technische Materiaalwetenschappen - 3mE, Precision and Microsystems Engineering (PME)

Team members

Dr. P.B. Belardinelli, A. Chandrashekar


01/09/2017 to 14/01/2021