A collaboration with the Centre for Nano-science and Quantum Information at Bristol University aims to develop nano-precision positioning devices for atomic force microscopes. This is seen as an emerging application area in the control systems community. In this project, sliding mode observers will be used as 'disturbance observers' to integrate within the control loops to improve accuracy and to allow faster scanning rates. Based on measurements of the oscillating cantilever tip, observers will also provide information which is unmeasurable, but which is fundamental to improving the estimate of the surface topography of the specimen under study. The objective is to create a non-contact transverse dynamic atomic force microscope, capable of observing biological processes in-situ and at high speed.