The role of contaminants in the variation of adhesion, friction, and electrical conduction properties of carbide-coated scanning probe tips and Pt(111) in ultrahigh vacuum

Thumbnail Image
Penn collection
Departmental Papers (MEAM)
Degree type
tungsten compounds
thin films
ohmic contacts
electrical conductivity
scanning tunnelling microscopy
Grant number
Copyright date
Related resources
Enachescu, M.
Ogletree, D. F
Salmeron, Miguel

Scanning probe microscopy was used to investigate the tribological properties of nanoscale tips in contact with a Pt(111) single-crystal surface under ultrahigh vacuum conditions. The tips were coated with a tungsten carbide film, which contained a significant fraction of oxygen. The electrically conductive tip made it possible to alternate between contact measurements and noncontact scanning tunneling microscopy. Several types of interfaces were found depending on the chemical state of the surfaces. The first type is characterized by strong irreversible adhesion followed by material transfer between tip and sample. Low adhesion and no material transfer characterize a second type of contact, which are associated with the presence of passivating adsorbates in both (full passivation) or in one of the two contacting surfaces (half-passivation). Half-passivated contacts in which the clean side is the Pt(111) sample gave rise to periodic stick-slip friction behavior with a period equal to the atomic lattice constant of the Pt(111) surface. Local electrical conductivity measurements show a clear correlation between electronic and friction properties, with ohmic behavior on clean regions of the Pt surface and semiconductor-like behavior on areas covered with adsorbates. © 2004 American Institute of Physics.

Date Range for Data Collection (Start Date)
Date Range for Data Collection (End Date)
Digital Object Identifier
Series name and number
Publication date
Journal title
Volume number
Issue number
Publisher DOI
Journal Issue
Copyright (2004) American Institute of Physics. This article may be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the American Institute of Physics. Reprinted in Journal of Applied Physics, Volume 95, Issue 12, June 2004, pages 7694-7700. NOTE: At the time of publication, author Robert W. Carpick was affiliated with the University of Wisconsin. Currently (June 2007), he is a faculty member in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics at the University of Pennsylvania. Publisher URL:
Recommended citation