A hyperbaric hydrothermal atomic force microscope (AFM) is provided to image solid surfaces in fluids, either liquid or gas, at pressures greater than normal atmospheric pressure. The sample can be heated and its surface imaged in aqueous solution at temperatures greater than 100.degree. C. with less than 1 nm vertical resolution. A gas pressurized microscope base chamber houses the stepper motor and piezoelectric scanner. A chemically inert, flexible membrane separates this base chamber from the sample cell environment and constrains a high temperature, pressurized liquid or gas in the sample cell while allowing movement of the scanner. The sample cell is designed for continuous flow of liquid or gas through the sample environment.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.