Probing material properties at surfaces down to the single-particle scale of atoms and molecules has been achieved, but high-resolution subsurface imaging remains a nanometrology challenge due to electromagnetic and acoustic dispersion and diffraction. The atomically sharp probe used in scanning probe microscopy (SPM) has broken these limits at surfaces. Subsurface imaging is possible under certain physical, chemical, electrical, and thermal gradients present in the material. Of all the SPM techniques, atomic force microscopy has entertained unique opportunities for nondestructive and label-free measurements. Here, we explore the physics of the subsurface imaging problem and the emerging solutions that offer exceptional potential for visualization. We discuss materials science, electronics, biology, polymer and composite sciences, and emerging quantum sensing and quantum bio-imaging applications. The perspectives and prospects of subsurface techniques are presented to stimulate further work toward enabling noninvasive high spatial and spectral resolution investigation of materials including meta- and quantum materials.
Bibliographical noteFunding information:
This work was sponsored in part by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER) in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science and in part by the Center for Bioenergy Innovation (CBI) of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) as well as Department for Economy (DfE), Northern Ireland through U.S.-Ireland R&D Partnership grant no. USI 186. CBI is a DOE Bioenergy Research Center supported by the BER in the DOE Office of Science. ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle, LLC, for the U.S. DOE under contract DE-AC05-00OR22725.
© 2023 The Authors.