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Making, Breaking and Sliding of Nanometer-Scale Contacts

  • R.W. Carpick (a1), M. Enachescu (a1), D.F. Ogletree (a1) and M. Salmeron (a1)


The contact between an atomic force microscope tip and a sample surface can form an ideal single asperity of nanometer dimensions, where the interaction forces can be measured with sub- nanoNewton force resolution. Studies of contact, adhesion and friction for these nano-asperities have been carried out for a variety of tips and single crystal sample surfaces. The major result is the observation of proportionality between friction and true contact area for a variety of systems, and an impressive agreement with continuum mechanics models for contact area even at the nanometer scale. The relevant continuum models can in fact be understood in the framework of fracture mechanics.



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