Thickness and structure of adsorbed water layer and effects on adhesion and friction at nanoasperity contact

Chen Xiao, Pengfei Shi, Wenmeng Yan, Lei Chen, Linmao Qian, Seong H. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Most inorganic material surfaces exposed to ambient air can adsorb water, and hydrogen bonding interactions among adsorbed water molecules vary depending on, not only intrinsic properties of material surfaces, but also extrinsic working conditions. When dimensions of solid objects shrink to micro- and nano-scales, the ratio of surface area to volume increases greatly and the contribution of water condensation on interfacial forces, such as adhesion (Fa) and friction (Ft), becomes significant. This paper reviews the structural evolution of the adsorbed water layer on solid surfaces and its effect on Fa and Ft at nanoasperity contact for sphere-on-flat geometry. The details of the underlying mechanisms governing water adsorption behaviors vary depending on the atomic structure of the substrate, surface hydrophilicity and atmospheric conditions. The solid surfaces reviewed in this paper include metal/metallic oxides, silicon/silicon oxides, fluorides, and two-dimensional materials. The mechanism by which water condensation influences Fa is discussed based on the competition among capillary force, van derWaals force and the rupture force of solid-like water bridge. The condensed meniscus and the molecular configuration of the water bridge are influenced by surface roughness, surface hydrophilicity, temperature, sliding velocity, which in turn affect the kinetics of water condensation and interfacial Ft. Taking the effects of the thickness and structure of adsorbed water into account is important to obtain a full understanding of the interfacial forces at nanoasperity contact under ambient conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number55
JournalColloids and Interfaces
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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