Departmental Papers (MEAM)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

June 1996


Copyright (1996) American Institute of Physics. This article may be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the American Institute of Physics. Reprinted in Review of Scientific Instruments, Volume 67, Issue 9, June 2006, pages 3298-3306.
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NOTE: At the time of publication, author Robert W. Carpick was affiliated with the University of Wisconsin. Currently (June 2007), he is a faculty member in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics at the University of Pennsylvania.


The atomic force microscope can provide information on the atomic-level frictional properties of surfaces, but reproducible quantitative measurements are difficult to obtain. Parameters that are either unknown or difficult to precisely measure include the normal and lateral cantilever force constants (particularly with microfabricated cantilevers), the tip height, the deflection sensor response, and the tip structure and composition at the tip-surface contact. We present an in situ experimental procedure to determine the response of a cantilever to lateral forces in terms of its normal force response. This procedure is quite general. It will work with any type of deflection sensor and does not require the knowledge or direct measurement of the lever dimensions or the tip height. In addition, the shape of the tip apex can be determined. We also discuss a number of specific issues related to force and friction measurements using optical lever deflection sensing. We present experimental results on the lateral force response of commercially available V-shaped cantilevers. Our results are consistent with estimates of lever mechanical properties using continuum elasticity theory.


microscopes, calibration, sliding friction, static loads, probes, measuring methods, interfaces



Date Posted: 25 June 2007

This document has been peer reviewed.