ABSTRACT: We report a method for transferring graphene, grown by chemical vapor deposition, which produces ultraflat graphene surfaces (root-mean-square roughness of 0.19 nm) free from polymer residues over macroscopic areas (>1 cm(2)). The critical step in preparing such surfaces involves the use of an intermediate mica template, which itself is atomically smooth. We demonstrate the compatibility of these model surfaces with the surface force balance, opening up the possibility of measuring normal and lateral forces, including friction and adhesion, between two graphene sheets either in contact or across a liquid medium. The conductivity of the graphene surfaces allows forces to be measured while controlling the surface potential. This new apparatus, the graphene surface force balance, is expected to be of importance to the future understanding of graphene in applications from lubrication to electrochemical energy storage systems.
Project description:Phosphatidylcholine lipid bilayers or liposomes at interfaces in aqueous environments can provide extremely efficient lubrication. This is attributed to the hydration lubrication mechanism acting at the highly hydrated phosphocholine-headgroup layers exposed at the outer surface of each bilayer. Micelles exposing such phosphocholine groups could be an attractive alternative to liposomes due to their much easier preparation and structure control, but all studies to date of surfactant micelles have revealed that at relatively low normal stresses the surface layers rupture and friction increases abruptly. Here, we examine surface interactions between three kinds of phosphocholine-exposing micelles with different designed structures: single-tail surfactant micelles, homo-oligomeric micelles, and block copolymer micelles. Normal and shear forces between mica surfaces immersed in solutions of these micelles were measured using a surface force balance. The adsorbed layers on the mica were imaged using atomic force microscope, revealing surface structures ranging from wormlike to spherical micelles. The block copolymer micelles showed relatively low coverage arising from their stabilizing corona and consequently poor lubrication (? ? 10-1). In contrast, the surfactant and homo-oligomeric micelles fully covered the mica surface and demonstrated excellent lubrication (? ? O(10-3)). However, while the boundary layer of single-tailed surfactant micelles degraded under moderate pressure, the homo-oligomeric micellar boundary layer was robust at all applied contact pressures in our study (up to about 5 MPa). We attribute the difference to the much greater energy required to remove a homo-oligomeric molecule from its micelle, resulting in far greater stability under pressure and shear.
Project description:Osteoarthritic joints contain lower-molecular-weight (MW) hyaluronan (hyaluronic acid, HA) than healthy joints. To understand the relevance of this HA size effect for joint lubrication, the friction and surface structure of cartilage-emulating surfaces with HA of different MWs were studied using a surface force balance (SFB) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). Gelatin (gel)-covered mica surfaces were coated with high-MW HA (HHA), medium-MW HA (MHA), or low-MW HA (LHA), and lipids of hydrogenated soy l-?-phosphatidylcholine (HSPC) in the form of small unilamellar vesicles, using a layer-by-layer assembly method. SFB results indicate that the gel-HHA-HSPC boundary layer provides very efficient lubrication, attributed to hydration lubrication at the phosphocholine headgroups exposed by the HA-attached lipids, with friction coefficients (COF) as low as 10-3-10-4 at contact stresses at least up to P = 120 atm. However, for the gel-MHA-HSPC and gel-LHA-HSPC surfaces, the friction, initially low, increases sharply at much lower pressures (up to 30-60 atm at most). This higher friction with the shorter chains may be due to their weaker total adhesion energy to the gelatin, where the attraction between the negatively charged HA and the weakly positively charged gelatin is attributed largely to counterion-release entropy. Thus, the complexes of LHA and MHA with the lubricating HSPC lipids are more easily removed by shear during sliding, especially at high stresses, than the HHA-HSPC complex, which is strongly adhered to gelatin. This is ultimately the reason for lower-pressure lubrication breakdown with the shorter polysaccharides. Our results provide molecular-level insight into why the decrease in HA molecular weight in osteoarthritic joints may be associated with higher friction at the articular cartilage surface, and may have relevance for treatments of osteoarthritis involving intra-articular HA injections.
Project description:The fundamental questions of how lubricant molecules organize into a layered structure under nanometers confinement and what is the interplay between layering and friction are still not well answered in the field of nanotribology. While the phase transition of lubricants during a squeeze-out process under compression is a long-standing controversial debate (i.e., liquid-like to solid-like phase transition versus amorphous glass-like transition), recent different interpretations to the stick-slip friction of lubricants in boundary lubrication present new challenges in this field. We carry out molecular dynamics simulations of a model lubricant film (cyclohexane) confined between molecularly smooth surfaces (mica)--a prototypical model system studied in surface force apparatus or surface force balance experiments. Through fully atomistic simulations, we find that repulsive force between two solid surfaces starts at about seven lubricant layers (n = 7) and the lubricant film undergoes a sudden liquid-like to solid-like phase transition at n < 6 monolayers thickness. Shear of solidified lubricant films at three- or four-monolayer thickness results in stick-slip friction. The sliding friction simulation shows that instead of shear melting of the film during the slip of the surface, boundary slips at solid-lubricant interfaces happen, while the solidified structure of the lubricant film is well maintained during repeated stick-slip friction cycles. Moreover, no dilation of the lubricant film during the slip is observed, which is surprisingly consistent with recent surface force balance experimental measurements.
Project description:Using a surface force balance, normal and shear interactions have been measured between two atomically smooth surfaces coated with hyaluronan (HA), and with HA/aggrecan (Agg) complexes stabilized by cartilage link protein (LP). Such HA/Agg/LP complexes are the most abundant mobile macromolecular species permeating articular cartilage in synovial joints and have been conjectured to be present as boundary lubricants at its surface. The aim of the present study is to gain insight into the extremely efficient lubrication when two cartilage surfaces slide past each other in healthy joints, and in particular to elucidate the possible role in this of the HA/Agg/LP complexes. Within the range of our parameters, our results reveal that the HA/Agg/LP macromolecular surface complexes are much better boundary lubricants than HA alone, likely because of the higher level of hydration, due to the higher charge density, of the HA/Agg/LP layers with respect to the HA alone. However, the friction coefficients (?) associated with the mutual interactions and sliding of opposing HA/Agg/LP layers (? ? 0.01 up to pressure P of ca. 12 atm, increasing sharply at higher P) suggest that such complexes by themselves cannot account for the remarkable boundary lubrication observed in mammalian joints (up to P > 50 atm).
Project description:Surface damage characteristics of single- and multilayer hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN), molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), and graphene films were systematically investigated via atomic force microscopy (AFM)-based progressive-force and constant-force scratch tests and Raman spectroscopy. The film-to-substrate interfacial strengths of these atomically thin films were assessed based on their critical forces (i.e., the normal force where the atomically thin film was delaminated from the underlying substrate), as determined from progressive-force scratch tests. The evolution of surface damage with respect to normal force was further investigated using constant-force tests. The results showed that single-layer h-BN, MoS2, and graphene strongly adhere to the SiO2 substrate, which significantly improves its tribological performance. Moreover, defect formation induced by scratch testing was found to affect the topography and friction force differently prior to failure, which points to distinct surface damage characteristics. Interestingly, the residual strains at scratched areas suggest that the scratch test-induced in-plane compressive strains were dominant over tensile strains, thereby leading to buckling in front of the scratching tip and eventually failure at sufficient strains. These trends represent the general failure mechanisms of atomically thin materials because of a scratch test. As the number of layers increased, the tribological performances of atomically thin h-BN, MoS2, and graphene were found to significantly improve because of an increase in the interfacial strengths and a decrease in the surface damage and friction force. In all, the findings on the distinctive surface damage characteristics and general failure mechanisms are useful for the design of reliable, protective and solid-lubricant coating layers based on these materials for nanoscale devices.
Project description:Interfaces are essential in electrochemical processes, providing a critical nanoscopic design feature for composite electrodes used in Li-ion batteries. Understanding the structure, wetting and mobility at nano-confined interfaces is important for improving the efficiency and lifetime of electrochemical devices. Here we use a Surface Forces Apparatus to quantify the initial wetting of nanometre-confined graphene, gold and mica surfaces by Li-ion battery electrolytes. Our results indicate preferential wetting of confined graphene in comparison with gold or mica surfaces because of specific interactions of the electrolyte with the graphene surface. In addition, wetting of a confined pore proceeds via a profoundly different mechanism compared with wetting of a macroscopic surface. We further reveal the existence of molecularly layered structures of the confined electrolyte. Nanoscopic confinement of less than 4-5?nm and the presence of water decrease the mobility of the electrolyte. These results suggest a lower limit for the pore diameter in nanostructured electrodes.
Project description:The many unique properties of graphene, such as the tunable optical, electrical, and plasmonic response make it ideally suited for applications such as biosensing. As with other surface-based biosensors, however, the performance is limited by the diffusive transport of target molecules to the surface. Here we show that atomically sharp edges of monolayer graphene can generate singular electrical field gradients for trapping biomolecules via dielectrophoresis. Graphene-edge dielectrophoresis pushes the physical limit of gradient-force-based trapping by creating atomically sharp tweezers. We have fabricated locally backgated devices with an 8-nm-thick HfO2 dielectric layer and chemical-vapor-deposited graphene to generate 10× higher gradient forces as compared to metal electrodes. We further demonstrate near-100% position-controlled particle trapping at voltages as low as 0.45?V with nanodiamonds, nanobeads, and DNA from bulk solution within seconds. This trapping scheme can be seamlessly integrated with sensors utilizing graphene as well as other two-dimensional materials.
Project description:The stability of organomineral aggregates in soils has a key influence on nutrient cycling, erosion, and soil productivity. Both clay minerals with distinct basal and edge surfaces and organic molecules with reactive functional groups offer rich bonding environments. While clay edges often promote strong inner-sphere bonding of -COOH-laden organics, we explore typically weaker, outer-sphere bonding of such molecules onto basal planes and its significance in organomineral interactions. In this surface force apparatus study, we probed face-specific interactions of negatively charged mica basal surfaces in solutions containing carboxyl-bearing, low-molecular-weight dicarboxylic acids (DAs). Our experiments provide distance-resolved, nanometer-range measurements of forces acting between two (001) mica surfaces and simultaneously probe DA adsorption. We show that background inorganic ions display crucial importance in nanoscale forces acting between basal mica surfaces and in DA adsorption: Na<sup>+</sup> contributes to strong repulsion and little binding of dicarboxylic anions, while small amounts of Ca<sup>2+</sup> are sufficient to screen the basal surface charge of mica, facilitate strong adhesion, and enhance dicarboxylic anion adsorption by acting as cationic bridges. Despite reversible and weak adsorption of DAs, we resolve their multilayer binding via assembly of hydrophobic chains in the presence of Ca<sup>2+</sup>, pointing the importance of abundant, less reactive basal clay surfaces in organomineral interactions.
Project description:Meso-porous electrodes (pore width « 1 µm) are a central component in electrochemical energy storage devices and related technologies, based on the capacitive nature of electric double-layers at their surfaces. This requires that such charging, limited by ion transport within the pores, is attained over the device operation time. Here we measure directly electric double layer charging within individual nano-slits, formed between gold and mica surfaces in a surface force balance, by monitoring transient surface forces in response to an applied electric potential. We find that the nano-slit charging time is of order 1 s (far slower than the time of order 3 × 10-2 s characteristic of charging an unconfined surface in our configuration), increasing at smaller slit thickness, and decreasing with solution ion concentration. The results enable us to examine critically the nanopore charging dynamics, and indicate how to probe such charging in different conditions and aqueous environments.
Project description:Using an atomic force microscope and a surface force apparatus, we measured the surface coverage, adhesion, and mechanical properties of layers of osteopontin (OPN), a phosphoprotein of the human bones, adsorbed on mica. OPN is believed to connect mineralized collagen fibrils of the bone in a matrix that dissipates energy, reducing the risk of fractures. Atomic force microscopy normal force measurements showed large adhesion and energy dissipation upon retraction of the tip, which were due to the breaking of the many OPN-OPN and OPN-mica bonds formed during tip-sample contact. The dissipated energy increased in the presence of Ca(2+) ions due to the formation of additional OPN-OPN and OPN-mica salt bridges between negative charges. The forces measured by surface force apparatus between two macroscopic mica surfaces were mainly repulsive and became hysteretic only in the presence of Ca(2+): adsorbed layers underwent an irreversible compaction during compression due to the formation of long-lived calcium salt bridges. This provides an energy storage mechanism, which is complementary to energy dissipation and may be equally relevant to bone recovery after yield. The prevalence of one mechanism or the other appears to depend on the confinement geometry, adsorption protocol, and loading-unloading rates.