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AFM for Tribology Research

Frictional force is measured as a function of applied load (friction loops) for several different anti-friction coatings

Friction and other dissipative processes play a crucial role in applications ranging from car engines to hip replacements, but key aspects of these phenomena are still not well understood. In addition, tribological behavior can change dramatically as critical dimensions shrink, due to increased surface-to-volume ratios. Atomic force microscopes provide many capabilities for tribological experiments on atomic to micrometer length scales. Current models can measure very small lateral forces over a wide range of normal forces, with higher force sensitivity and lower noise. Increased scan speeds enable velocity-dependent studies over a wider range. These and other features such as higher spatial resolution, extensive environmental control, and numerous routines for setup and data analysis make atomic force microscopy a powerful tool for nanotribology.

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  • Friction and wear (friction force microscopy, FFM, and lateral force microscopy, LFM)
  • Adhesion (force curves and Fast Force Mapping)
  • Surface roughness and topography (tapping mode)
  • Triboelectricity (electrostatic force microscopy, EFM, and Kelvin probe force microscopy, KPFM)
  • Environmental control (liquids and gases, relative humidity, temperature)
  • Cantilever calibration software (GetReal)
  • Micro/nanoelectromechanical systems (MEMS/NEMS)
  • Graphene and 2D materials
  • Magnetic storage devices
  • Biomaterials (orthopedics, cosmetics, etc.)
  • Wear resistant films
  • Lubricants
  • Coatings for corrosion protection

1. D. P. Chang, F. Guilak, G. D. Jay, and S. Zauscher, “Interaction of lubricin with type II collagen surfaces: adsorption, friction, and normal forces,” J. Biomech. 47, 659 (2014).

2. H. Chen and T. Filleter, “Effect of structure on the tribology of ultrathin graphene and graphene oxide films,” Nanotechnology 26, 135702 (2015).

3. A. Li, S. N. Ramakrishna, P. C. Nalam, E. M. Benetti, and N. D. Spencer, “Stratified polymer grafts: synthesis and characterization of layered ‘brush’ and ‘gel’ structures,” Adv. Mater. Interfaces 1, 1300007 (2014).

4. S. W. Liu, H. P. Wang, Q. Xu, T. B. Ma, G. Yu, C. Zhang, D. Geng, Z. Yu, S. Zhang, W. Wang, Y. Z. Hu, H. Wang, and J. Luo, “Robust microscale superlubricity under high contact pressure enabled by graphene-coated microsphere,” Nat. Commun. 8, 14029 (2017).

5. A. J. Marsden, M. Phillips, and N. R. Wilson, “Friction force microscopy: a simple technique for identifying graphene on rough substrates and mapping the orientation of graphene grains on copper,” Nanotechnology 24, 255704 (2013).