Mechanical forces on small scales provide valuable and detailed information on the properties of the probed surface, such as wear, friction and adhesion. Understanding the role of dissipation energy and surface potential in frictional mechanisms is essential for tribology, nanoscale fabrication, catalysis and so on. Through the interaction between the sharp Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) cantilever tip and the surface, various forces can be measured during the scanning experiment, and disclose information in the atomic-resolution.
We are interested in the application of nonequilibrium work relations to reconstruct the surface potential from such atomic friction measurements of mono-crystals and catalysts. In this context we are interested in probing the interaction potential between metal and oxide surface, and correlate it with the catalytic activity (conversion, selectivity etc.) of the studied substances.
Going beyond catalysts, we study the mechanical properties of practical materials, such as semiconductors and alloys. We measure MoTe2 crystal in its metallic and semiconductor forms. Using lateral nanofriction and nanoindentation, we study the mechanical properties of aluminum alloy after chemical treatment of the surface when exposed to humidity, with the intention of correlating these properties with the adhesion of these surfaces with a polymeric adhesive matrix. We are also interested in fundamental investigation of measuring lateral friction on the nanoscale in the presence of liquid surrounding using the AFM.