Frictional Force and the AFM

Im reading a wonderful book called Springer Handbook of Nano-technology and Im on the chapter dealing with how the AFM (atomic force microscope) works. Upon the section describing how it works with frictional forces I ran into a bit of a complex.

If we're imaging the topography of some atomic structure, that would be (essentially) the interaction of electrons of the sample's surface, and the AFM's probe-tip surface. Now, considering that friction is the force against movement in a given direction (caused by irregularities in shape we can or cannot see), that too, is caused by the sum of all the electron's interactions (is that a wrong assumption?). So by using an AFM in contact mode, allowing the tip/sample to connect, are we not just measuring the frictional force and processing that as an image?

After typing this out, I think my perspective of frictional force may be off... I hope I hit some type of question though...
 

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