Laterally differentiated chemistry and structure of surfaces are commonly employed in a variety of devices/components (e.g., biosensors, array devices). At present such devices are based on macroscopic technologies. Future applications of differentiated surfaces are expected to place considerable demands on down-sizing technologies, i.e. enable meso/nanoscopic manipulation. The atomic force microscope (AFM) has emerged as an ideal platform for manipulation, visualization and characterisation of surface structures on the nano-scale1-14. Controlled AFM-based tip-induced lithography on P(tBuMA) thin film polymer surfaces has been obtained, at line widths down to tens of nanometres and depths in the sub-nanometre range. Parameters giving rise to production of nano-structures can in principle be defined for different polymers (lever-induced out-of-plane loading and in-plane shear forces, linear tip speed, tip shape and chemistry, polymer surface chemistry and mechanical properties). However, those sets of parameters, and their relationship to lithographic outcomes, cannot be derived from the currently accepted models for wear between macroscopic objects in sliding contact.