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The effects of humidity and surface free energy on adhesion force between atomic force microscopy tip and a silane self-assembled monolayer film

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 January 2011

Chien-Chao Huang
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, National Tsing Hua University, HsinChu 300, Taiwan
Lijiang Chen
Department of Chemistry, Zhejiang Sci-Tech University, Hangzhou 310012, China
Tinh Nguyen
Building and Fire Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20899
Sanboh Lee*
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, National Tsing Hua University, HsinChu 300, Taiwan
a)Address all correspondence to this author. e-mail:
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The relationship between atomic force microscopy probe-sample adhesion force and relative humidity (RH) at five different levels of surface free energy (γs) of an organic self-assembled monolayer (SAM) has been investigated. Different γs levels were achieved by exposing a patterned SiO2/CH3-terminated octyldimethylchlorosilane SAM sample to an ultraviolet (UV)/ozone atmosphere. A model consisting of the Laplace-Kelvin theory for capillary condensation for nanosized probe and probe-sample molecular interaction was derived to describe the adhesion force as a function of RH from 25 to 90% for different SAM γs values. The equations were solved analytically by using an equivalent curvature of the probe tip shape. Experimental results show that the adhesion force increases slightly with RH for nonpolar SAM. However, for polar SAM surfaces, it increases at first, reaches a maximum, and then decreases. Both the rate of increase and the maximum of the adhesion force with humidity are γs-dependent, which is in good agreement with theoretical prediction. The large rise in the adhesion force in this RH range is due to the capillary force.

Copyright © Materials Research Society 2010

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