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Issue 27, 2011
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Role of water in atomic resolution AFM in solutions

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We use computer modelling to investigate the mechanism of atomic-scale corrugation in frequency modulation atomic force microscopy imaging of inorganic surfaces in solution. Molecular dynamics simulations demonstrate that the forces acting on a model microscope tip result from the direct interaction between a tip and a surface, and forces entirely due to the water structure around both tip and surface. The observed force is a balance between largely repulsive potential energy changes as the tip approaches and the entropic gain when water is sterically prevented from occupying sites near the tip and surface. Only extremely sharp tips are likely to measure direct tip-surface interactions. An investigation into the dynamics of water confined between tip and surface shows that water diffusion can be slowed by at least two orders of magnitude compared to its rate in bulk solution.

Graphical abstract: Role of water in atomic resolution AFM in solutions

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Article information

02 Apr 2011
17 May 2011
First published
13 Jun 2011

Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2011,13, 12584-12594
Article type

Role of water in atomic resolution AFM in solutions

M. Watkins, M. L. Berkowitz and A. L. Shluger, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2011, 13, 12584
DOI: 10.1039/C1CP21021A

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