Various layered transition metal dichalcogenides were scanned with an optical-lever atomic force microscope (AFM). The microscopic images indicate the occurrence of strong lateral stick–slip effects. In this letter, two models are presented to describe the observations due to stick–slip, i.e., either as a static or as a dynamic phenomenon. Although both models describe correctly the observed shapes of the unit cell, details in the observed and simulated images point at dynamic nonequilibrium effects. This exact shape of the unit cell depends on cantilever stiffness, scan direction, and detector direction.
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