We discuss various aspects of the quartz tuning fork, ranging from its original purpose as a high quality factor resonator for use as a stable frequency reference, to more exotic applications in sensing and scanning probe microscopy. We show experimentally how to tune the quality factor by injecting energy in phase with the current at resonance (quality factor increase) or out of phase (quality factor decrease), hence tuning the sensitivity and the response time of the probe to external disturbances. The principle of shear force scanning probe microscopy is demonstrated on a simple profiler constructed with equipment available in a teaching laboratory.

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