Recent results have demonstrated the feasibility of video-rate scanning tunneling microscopy and video-rate atomic force microscopy. The further development of this technology will enable the direct observation of many dynamic processes that are impossible to observe today with conventional Scanning Probe Microscopes (SPMs). Examples are atom and molecule diffusion processes, the motion of molecular motors, real-time film growth, and chemical or catalytic reactions. Video-rate scanning probe technology might also lead to the extended application of SPMs in industry, e.g. for process control. In this paper we discuss the critical aspects that have to be taken into account for improving the imaging speed of SPMs. We point out the required instrumentation efforts, give an overview of the state of the art in high-speed scanning technology and discuss the required future developments for imaging at video-rates.

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DOI: 10.1016/S1369-7021(09)70006-9