The Langmuir Blodgett (LB) Process has been shown to be an appropriate method for use in mimicking of biological processes for producing engineering materials such as bioceramics. The main advantages of this approach are that the layers form at low temperatures, that they are fully dense and that the process of densification is by infiltration rather than by sintering. Moreover, biological hard tissues are self-assembled to perform certain functions; the architecture being controlled by an epitaxial organic matrix. Clearly, if this process can be understood in detail then it is possible that LB films may be used to replicate this architecture for engineering purposes.
Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) and X-ray diffraction (XRD) have been used to study and characterise LB films of calcium stearate obtained by the repeated dipping into and withdrawal of a (001) Si wafer from a subphase containing calcium ions and using stearic acid as the surfactant. Contact-mode AFM images of the film surface have been used to measure the thickness of the LB layers and to reveal the nature and distribution of defects in the film. The measured thickness of the calcium stearate layers is about 2.5 nm; a value consistent with that obtained by XRD, but smaller than the length of an individual calcium stearate molecules.