We demonstrate the use of a different design of atomic force microscope cantilever for the study of lateral forces during a tensile transition to contact. The design of the cantilever is based on a seesaw structure which maintains sufficiently high stiffness in the normal direction and lateral scanning direction to enable stability during tip–sample approach and subsequent lateral scanning. Dynamic measurements are made by a combination of magnetic and piezo lever activation. We utilize the resonance modes of the normal and lateral tip motion in order to minimize coupling between the two signals and to increase sensitivity. High-resolution images of a strontium titanate sample are simultaneously acquired in the normal and lateral dynamic modes, and show distinctly different contrast, indicating that indeed the two interactions can be measured independently. © 1999 American Institute of Physics.