Traditionally, dynamic atomic force microscopy (AFM) techniques are based on the analysis of the quasi-steady state response of the cantilever deflection in terms of Fourier analysis. Here we describe a technique that instead exploits the often disregarded transient response of the cantilever through a relatively modern mathematical tool, which has caused important developments in several scientific fields but that is still quite unknown in the AFM context: the wavelet analysis. This tool allows us to localize the time-varying spectral composition of the initial oscillations of the cantilever deflection when an impulsive excitation is given (as in the band excitation method), a mode that we call the fewcycle regime. We show that this regime encodes very meaningful information about the tip-sample interaction in a unique and extremely sensitive manner. We exploit this high sensitivity to gain detailed insight into multiple physical parameters that perturb the dynamics of the AFM probe, such as the tip radius, Hamaker constant, sample's elastic modulus and height of an adsorbed water layer. We validate these findings with experimental evidence and computational simulations and show a feasible path towards the simultaneous retrieval of multiple physical parameters.
- atomic force microscopy