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Imaging beyond the surface region: Probing hidden materials via atomic force microscopy

by Amir Payam, Ali Passian
Publication Type
Journal Name
Science Advances
Publication Date
Page Numbers
1 to 18

Probing material properties at surfaces down to the single-particle scale of atoms and molecules has been achieved, but high-resolution subsurface imaging remains a nanometrology challenge due to electromagnetic and acoustic dispersion and diffraction. The atomically sharp probe used in scanning probe microscopy (SPM) has broken these limits at surfaces. Subsurface imaging is possible under certain physical, chemical, electrical, and thermal gradients present in the material. Of all the SPM techniques, atomic force microscopy has entertained unique opportunities for nondestructive and label-free measurements. Here, we explore the physics of the subsurface imaging problem and the emerging solutions that offer exceptional potential for visualization. We discuss materials science, electronics, biology, polymer and composite sciences, and emerging quantum sensing and quantum bio-imaging applications. The perspectives and prospects of subsurface techniques are presented to stimulate further work toward enabling noninvasive high spatial and spectral resolution investigation of materials including meta- and quantum materials.