Amplitude modulation atomic force microscopy, is acoustic driving in liquid quantitatively reliable?

Fei Liu, Cunlu Zhao, Frieder Mugele, Dirk van den Ende

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
22 Downloads (Pure)


Measuring quantitative tip-sample interaction forces in dynamic atomic force microscopy in fluids is challenging because of the strong damping of the ambient viscous medium and the fluid-mediated driving forces. This holds in particular for the commonly used acoustic excitation of the cantilever oscillation. Here we present measurements of tip-sample interactions due to conservative DLVO and hydration forces and viscous dissipation forces in aqueous electrolytes using tips with radii varying from typical 20 nm for the DLVO and hydration forces, to 1 μm for the viscous dissipation. The measurements are analyzed using a simple harmonic oscillator model, continuous beam theory with fluid-mediated excitation and thermal noise spectroscopy (TNS). In all cases consistent conservative forces, deviating less than 40% from each other, are obtained for all three approaches. The DLVO forces are even within 5% of the theoretical expectations for all approaches. Accurate measurements of dissipative forces within 15% of the predictions of macroscopic fluid dynamics require the use of TNS or continuous beam theory including fluid-mediated driving. Taking this into account, acoustic driving in liquid is quantitatively reliable.

Original languageEnglish
Article number385703
Issue number38
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sept 2015


  • AFM
  • Amplitude modulation
  • Confined liquid
  • Force spectroscopy
  • Hydration force
  • Piezo excitation
  • Thermal noise
  • 2023 OA procedure


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