An atomic force microscope (AFM) has been used to measure the modulated photothermal displacement of a surface, thus acting as a local detector. This was demonstrated with Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) and filter spectrometers focused on various samples. Similarly, surface layers were removed by an AFM and analyzed by the photothermal deformation of the coated cantilever. This work shows that the AFM can function as both an infrared detector and a precise surface separation device for spectroscopic analysis. The AFM combined with an FT-IR has the potential to enhance the sensitivity, selectivity, and spatial resolution of infrared spectroscopy. Index Headings: Atomic force microscope; Infrared; Fourier transform; Photothermal.

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