Capillary forces studied with atomic force microscopy

Sahar Maghsoudy-Louyeh, Bernhard R. Tittmann

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


The deposition of films and coatings is sometimes influenced by the presence of small amounts of moisture, which can affect the nucleation and growth processes. It is important to understand the behavior of coating materials-especially in semiconductors in terms of hydrophilicity/hydrophobicity along with adhesion forces. Our technical approach centers on the use of the atomic force microscope (AFM) which was found to be a reliable tool for studying the surface characteristics of materials. In addition to obtaining topographic information, the AFM can also probe attractive or repulsive forces between the tip and the sample surfaces. In this research, a systematic study of the influence of humidity on the adhesion forces between different AFM tips (silicon and silicon nitride) and both hydrophilic and hydrophobic materials (quartz, calcite, mica, graphite) has been conducted using atomic force microscopy. Several force-distance curves measured by the M5 AFM have been gathered at a series of different humidity levels and different locations on the samples. In this paper, measurements of the adhesion force for hydrophobic and hydrophilic materials versus humidity are presented. The results show that the adhesion force on graphite which has hydrophobic character is independent of humidity variation. Results also show that the adhesion force for fused quartz, mica, and calcite which are hydrophilic materials, change dramatically with increasing humidity due to capillary forces. This is in good agreement with theoretical calculations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-68
Number of pages5
JournalMaterials Research Society Symposium Proceedings
StatePublished - 2008
EventNanoscale Phenomena in Functional Materials by Scanning Probe Microscopy - Boston, MA, United States
Duration: Nov 26 2007Nov 30 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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