Any of several microscopic techniques that are based on measuring the interaction between a very sharp-tipped probe and the surface of the sample. The probe scans the sample surface in a systematic way (or the sample is moved beneath a static probe) and records the surface topography, which can be processed by a computer to produce images. Widely used in chemistry, such techniques are now increasingly used in biology to study biomolecules and cell surfaces at the nanometre scale. The most common variations are atomic force microscopy and scanning tunnelling microscopy.
http://www.nanoscience.com/education/tech-overview.html Overview of scanning probe microscopy techniques produced by Nanoscience Instruments Inc
Subjects: Biological Sciences.