Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Measuring Mechanical Properties on the Nanoscale with Contact Resonance Force Microscopy Methods



Donna C. Hurley


The superb spatial resolution and imaging capability of atomic force microscopy (AFM) make it an attractive tool for investigating nanoscale mechanical properties. One AFM method that shows promise for quantitative property data is contact resonance force microscopy (CR-FM). In this approach, the cantilever’s resonant frequencies are measured while the tip is in contact, and are used to determine the local contact stiffness. Nanomechanical information is obtained from the contact stiffness using an appropriate contact-mechanics model. Here we describe our work to develop quantitative CR-FM metrology and apply it to material systems. We explain the basic theoretical and experimental concepts, and show ways to implement them for accurate, reliable measurements in specific applications. New extensions of the original approach that enable measurements of shear elastic properties as well as viscoelastic properties are demonstrated. Work on quantitative contact-resonance imaging is also discussed. Contact-resonance frequency images enable maps of the spatial distribution in properties, such as the elastic modulus of small-scale structures and the interfacial adhesion of buried interfaces. Such mapping capabilities facilitate new studies of nanoscale mechanical behavior in a variety of emerging applications.
Publisher Info


atomic force acoustic microscopy (AFAM), contact resonance force microscopy (CR-FM), mechanical properties, nanomechanics


Hurley, D. (2010), Measuring Mechanical Properties on the Nanoscale with Contact Resonance Force Microscopy Methods, None, , , [online], (Accessed May 21, 2024)


If you have any questions about this publication or are having problems accessing it, please contact

Created December 1, 2010, Updated February 19, 2017