How Narrow Can a Meniscus Be?

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100 Scopus citations


A water meniscus naturally forms in air between an atomic force microscope (AFM) tip and a substrate. This nanoscale meniscus produces a capillary force on the AFM, and also serves as a molecular transport channel in dip-pen nanolithography (DPN). A stable meniscus is a necessary condition for DPN and for the validity of the Kelvin equation commonly applied to AFM experiments. Lattice gas Monte Carlo simulations show that, due to thermal fluctuation, a stable meniscus has a lower limit in width. We find a minimum width of 5 molecular diameters (1.9 nm) when the tip becomes atomically sharp (terminated by a single atom).

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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