AFM phase images were acquired with an atomic force microscope (MFP-3D, Asylum Research) in tapping mode. Dry freestanding PVA films were directly attached onto the sample stage with a double-sided carbon tape. The probe lightly taps on the sample surface with a recorded phase shift angle of the probe motion relative to a driving oscillator. The bright regions with high phase angle correspond to regions with relatively high modulus, and the dark regions with low phase angle correspond to regions with relatively low modulus.

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