Atomic force microscope
The atomic force microscope or AFM is an instrument for analysing relief on an atomic scale.
The AFM has a 10 nanometre radius metal tip mounted on a flexible lever, and records the interactions between the atoms of the tip and those of the surface being analysed. There is either an attraction, the Van der Waals force, or a repulsion (over a very small distance). These forces cause the tip to move, in turn causing deflections of the lever which are recorded and processed by a computer to give the relief.
Applications: nanotechnologies and biomedical research (the study of viral particles at the surface of an infected cell, for example).