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The small amplitude thermal vibrations of the microcantilever of an atomic force microscope can be enhanced via a delayed feedback system. This is verified experimentally for a triangular cantilever, and modeled theoretically as a boundary value problem resulting in a second order functional differential equation for the temporal behavior of the cantilever. The eigenvalues of the resulting delay differential equation describing the transverse vibrations of the cantilever are calculated and analyzed. These values are compared with the corresponding resonant frequencies predicted by a point mass model and with the experimentally observed values. (C) 2002 American Institute of Physics.