Friction force microscopy (FFM) enables the unprecedented measurement of friction at the nanoscale. It is known that when FFM microcantilevers are dragged across surface, the nanometer tip executes stick-slip motions as the tip “plucks” individual atoms on the surface. Tomlinson’s model is usually used to explain these effects. In what follows we investigate the effects of tip compliance on the stick-slip motions in FFM. New results are predicted describing the transition from steady sliding to single and multiple atom stick-slip. Additionally, the effect of these different motions on the average frictional force is calculated.

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