Infrared reflection image resolving individual molecular layers of Pentacene film. Image size 3.3 microns.
Highest resolution can open a window, beyond chemistry, to subtle changes near phase boundaries where a given chemistry is exposed to a gradient of chemical environments (see B. Pollard, E.A. Muller, K. Hinrichs, and M.B. Raschke, "Vibrational Nano-Spectroscopic Imaging Correlating Structure with Intermolecular Coupling and Dynamics," Nature Communications 5 (2014): 3587, doi:10.1038/ncomms4587).
The key to highest resolution, artifact-free imaging is to retain the integrity of the AFM tip. Traditional indirect approaches that rely on contact mode rarely provide a good means for obtaining high-resolution images on polymers due to the severe tip wear and sample damage inevitably caused by the mode's intrinsic lateral forces.
Inspire solves this issue by offering a choice of either TappingMode or PeakForce Tapping feedback. Though TappingMode eliminates lateral forces, it can still suffer from destructive transient forces when encountering challenging geometries. The most consistently artifact-free, high-resolution imaging is achieved by Bruker's proprietary PeakForce Tapping feedback, which eliminates these forces completely.