Images of the charge distribution at the surface of a photorefractive crystal were obtained by electrostatic force detection with an atomic force microscope. The images show charge gratings with periods of 1.6 and 0.23 μm written by two intersecting laser beams at 514 nm. In addition, they reveal a microstructure in the charge distribution that is caused by surface inhomogeneities. Grating profiles obtained at different writing fluences permit the study of saturation processes. The polarity of the charge carriers was determined by measurement of the phase shift between the light grating and the charge grating.
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