Recognizing and avoiding artifacts in atomic force microscopy imaging

Claudio Canale, Bruno Torre, Davide Ricci, Pier Carlo Braga

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Atomic force microscopy (AFM) measurements could be affected by different kinds of artifacts; some of them derive from the improper use of the instrument and can be avoided by setting the correct experimental parameters and conditions. In other cases, distortions of the images acquired by AFM are intrinsically related to the operating principle of the instrument itself and to the kind of interactions taken into account for the reconstruction of the sample topography. A perfect knowledge of all the artifacts that can perturb AFM measurements is fundamental to avoid misleading interpretations of the results. In this chapter, all the most common sources of artifact are presented, and strategies to avoid them are proposed. Subheading 1 is a brief introduction to the chapter. In Subheading 2, the artifacts due to the interactions between the sample and the AFM tip are presented. Subheading 3 is focused on the deformations due to the AFM scanner nonlinear movements. The interaction with the environment surrounding the instrument can affect the quality of the AFM results and the environmental instability are discussed in Subheading 4. Subheading 5 shows the effects of an incorrect setting of the feedback gains or other parameters. Subheading 6 aims on the artifacts that can be produced by the improper use of the image processing software. Subheading 7 is a short guide on the test that can be done to easily recognize some of the artifacts previously described.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMethods in Molecular Biology
PublisherHumana Press Inc.
Number of pages13
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameMethods in Molecular Biology
ISSN (Print)1064-3745


  • AFM
  • Creep
  • Instability
  • Nonlinearity
  • Tip artifacts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Recognizing and avoiding artifacts in atomic force microscopy imaging'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this