Tribology studies of organic thin films by scanning force microscopy


G. Bar, S. Rubin, A. Parikh, B. Swanson, T. Zawodzinski, MRS Proceedings: Thin Films Stresses and Mechanical Properties VI 436, 269 (1996)

The use of organic thin films as lubricants on solid surfaces is important in many modern technologies including magnetic storage and micromachines. Langmuir-Blodgett (LB) films and self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) are attractive candidates for lubricant layers and for model studies of lubrication because of their strong adsorption to the surface. The recent interest on the properties of LB films and SAMs has been also motivated by their potential applications in sensors, non-linear optical devices, lithography and microelectronics. Using the micro-contact printing method the authors prepared patterned SAMs consisting of methyl-terminated alkanethiols of different chain lengths. The samples were characterized using lateral force microscopy (LFM) and the force modulation technique (FMT). In general, higher friction is observed over the short chain regions than over the long chain regions when a low or moderate load is applied to the SFM tip. For such cases the high friction (short chain) regions are also ``softer`` as measured by FMT. A high loads, a reversal of the image contrast is observed and the short chain regions show a lower friction than the long chain regions. This image contrast is reversible upon reduction of the applied load.

DOI: 10.2172/251357