The atomic force microscopy (AFM) and more generally the near field microscopy are heavily used to characterize the surface of materials. Indeed, these microscopes possible to image very precisely the surface of all kinds of materials from the micrometer scale to the molecular or atomic scale. However, the originality and the important contribution of these microscopes lie in the ability to measure the physical properties at the nanoscale.
The tip of the AFM can measure locally different properties that can not be probed by other techniques: Friction, adhesion, chemical composition, magnetic and electrical properties, mechanical properties.
The principle objective of our work is to measure the mechanical properties of nanoscale objects and to study the influence of their small size on their mechanical properties. Additionally individual nano-objects are deformed in a controlled manner to (i) measure their elastic and friction properties, (ii) study the effects of their deformed shape on their physical properties.