The theoretical investigation of atomic-force-microscopy (AFM) images of graphite, in the case where van der Waals interactions play a major role, is presented. It is shown that the images display a centered hexagon formed by the center of the atomic hexagon on the top layer when the AFM is operated at distances at which forces between the tip and the surface become attractive. At closer distances at which forces change from attractive to repulsive, all atomic sites on the top surface of graphite become visible. Effects of multiple atoms lying on the top of the tip are examined. It is shown that, if the atomic arrangement on the top of the tip does not meet with the threefold symmetry of the graphite surface, the AFM images are significantly deformed.
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