Topographical imaging with atomic force microscopy (AFM) has become an established method since its invention in 1986. However, there exist a variety of imaging artifacts that can distort the acquired images, especially when using sharp probes such as carbon nanotubes or nanowires. This paper briefly discusses common imaging artifacts occurring at sharp step edges and explores theoretically their mitigation with spectral and multi-frequency methods that can perform simultaneous topographical imaging and force spectroscopy. The work focuses on the spectral inversion method, which has been experimentally validated by others [Stark et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 99, 8473–8478 (2002); Sahin et al., Nature Nanotech. 2, 507–514 (2007)], and on a recently proposed dual-frequency-modulation method, which has been demonstrated within computational simulations and is under experimental implementation in our laboratory [Solares & Chawla, Meas. Sci. & Technol. 19, No. 055502; Chawla & Solares, Meas. Sci. & Technol. 20, No. 015501].

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