Temperature-dependence of water bridge formation in atomic force microscopy

Brent A. Nelson, Lawrence A. Bottomley, Mark A. Poggi, William P. King

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

2 Scopus citations


When an Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) is operated in air, capillary condensation induces meniscus formation between the AFM tip and substrate. At present, no models account for the temperature-dependence of meniscus formation. This paper describes experiments measuring capillary forces between an AFM tip and mica at various temperatures and times. At low humidity, the capillary force decreases with increasing surface temperature in a manner unaccounted for by merely the dependence of water surface energy on temperature. We propose that this is due to water evaporation off the heated surface. The adhesion is also shown to decrease significantly with time until stabilizing after approximately an hour of experiments. Localized heating of the surface by the AFM laser is proposed as the cause of adhesion decrease. The decrease in force occurring at high surface temperatures implies a reduction in meniscus size that may potentially improve the resolution of AFM-based nanolithography techniques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMicro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) - 2003
PublisherAmerican Society of Mechanical Engineers
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)0791837211, 9780791837214
StatePublished - 2003
Event2003 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress - Washington, DC, United States
Duration: Nov 15 2003Nov 21 2003

Publication series

NameAmerican Society of Mechanical Engineers, Micro-Electromechanical Systems Division Publication (MEMS)


Other2003 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityWashington, DC


  • AFM
  • Adhesion
  • Meniscus
  • Nanolithography
  • Temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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