Since the invention of the scanning tunneling microscope (STM)1 and the atomic force microscope (AFM)2, the field of scanning probe microscopy (SPM) instruments has grown steadily and has had a profound influence in materials research, chemistry, biology, nanotechnology, and electronics3,4. Today, scanning probe instruments are used for metrology, characterization5, detection6, manipulation7, patterning8,9, and material modification. A wide range of scanning probe applications are available, taking advantage of various modes of tip–substrate interactions, including force, optics10,11, electrochemistry12, electromagnetics, electrostatics, thermal and mass transfer13,14, and vibration15,16.

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DOI: 10.1016/S1369-7021(09)70004-5