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).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)