Basel Universität

Friction at the nanoscale



Superlubricity of graphene nanoribbons on gold surface.

We demonstrated the superlubricity of graphene nanoribbons when sliding on gold with atomic force microscopy at 4.8 K. The atomically well-defined contact allows us to trace the origin of superlubricity, unraveling the role played by ribbon size and elasticity, as well as by surface reconstruction. In future, graphene could be used as an extremely thin coating, resulting in almost zero energy loss between mechanical parts. This is based on the exceptionally high lubricity - or so-called superlubricity - of modified carbon in the form of graphene.

See our publications in Science as well as press release.


Figure: Friction measurement of graphene nanoribbons on Au(111)



Single molecule tribology: force microscopy manipulation of a porphyrin derivative
on a copper surface.

Figure: Mechanical response during lateral displacement. a, Illustration of the friction experiment : the porphyrin-terminated tip is brought into contact with the Cu(111) surface while oscillating at its resonance frequency. b, Constant height ΔF ( x, y ) maps of the surface showing the atomic lattice structure of Cu(111).

The low temperature mechanical response of a single porphyrin molecule attache to the apex of an atomic force microscope (AFM) tip during vertical and lateral manipulations is studied. We find that approach-retraction cycles as well as surface scanning with the terminated tip result in atomic-scale friction patterns induced by the internal re-orientations of the molecule. Via a joint experimental and computational effort, we identify the di-cyanophenyl side groups of the molecule interacting with the surface as the dominant factor determining the observed frictional behavior. To this end, we developed a generalized Prandtl-Tomlinson model parametrized using density functional theory (DFT) calculations that includes the internal degrees of freedom of the side-group with respect to the core and its interactions with the underlying surface. We demonstrate that the friction pattern results from the variations of the bond length and bond angles between the di-cyanophenyl side group and the porphyrin backbone as well as those of the CN group facing the surface during the lateral and vertical motion of the AFM tip. This work has been conducted in collaboration with the groups of Prof. Urback and Prof. Hod of Tel Aviv University, Prof. E. Gnecco of the University of Jena and Prof. Quan-Shui Zheng of Tsinghua University

For more information please see our publication in ACS Nano.



Friction force microscopy (FFM) offers the unique possibility to explore dissipative
processes down to the atomic scale.

Lateral force images corresponding to externally applied loads of (a) 0, (b) 1.1, and (c) 3.5 nN with a pull off force of -0.7 nN. The scan speed of (a) and (c) is 50 nm/s and (b) was made with 20 nm/s. The orange and red insets are showing the size modulation between structures of adjacent rows. The line sections 1 to 6 in (d) are made along the same crystal direction and show how the contrast between adjacent rows evolves with different loads. Line sections 1 and 2 show that the tip is alternately sliding continuously and in a stick-slip manner. Line sections 5 and 6 are showing a difference in every other row of about 0.5 nN.





Publications related to this research topic:

Design and Characterization of an Electrically Powered Single Molecule on Gold
R. Pawlak , T. Meier, N. Renaud, M. Kisiel, A. Hinaut, T. Glatzel, D. Sordes, C. Durand, W.-H. Soe, A. Baratoff, C. Joachim, C. E. Housecroft, E. C. Constable , Ernst Meyer
ACS Nano, (11), (2017), 9930-9940, pdf.
Single-molecule manipulation experiments to explore friction and adhesion
R. Pawlak, S. Kawai, T. Meier, Th. Glatzel, A. Baratoff, E. Meyer
J. Phys. D : App. Phys., (50), (2017), 113003 , pdf.
Advanced atomic force microscopy techniques III
Th. Glatzel and T. Schimmel
Beilstein J. Nanotechnol., 7, (2016), 1052-1054, pdf.
Superlubricity of graphene nanoribbons on gold surfaces
S. Kawai, A. Benassi, E. Gnecco, H. Söde, R. Pawlak, X. Feng, K. Müllen, D. Passerone, C. A. Pignedoli, P. Ruffieux, R. Fasel, E. Meyer
Science, 351, (6276), (2016), 957, pdf.
Single Molecule Tribology: Force Microscopy Manipulation of a Porphyrin Derivative on a Copper Surface
R. Pawlak, W. Ouyang, A. E. Filippov, L. Kalikhman-Razvozov, S. Kawai, T. Glatzel, E. Gnecco, A. Baratoff , Q.-S. Zheng, O. Hod, M. Urbakh, E. Meyer
ACS Nano, 10, (2016), 713-722, pdf.
Single Molecule Tribology: Force Microscopy Manipulation of a Porphyrin Derivative on a Copper Surface
R. Pawlak, W. Ouyang, A. E. Filippov, L. Kalikhman-Razvozov, S. Kawai, T. Glatzel, E. Gnecco, A. Baratoff , Q.-S. Zheng, O. Hod, M. Urbakh, E. Meyer
ACS Nano, 10, (2016), 713-722, pdf.
Single-Molecule Experiments to Explore Friction And Adhesion (Invited)
R. Pawlak , S. Kawai, A. Baratoff, W.G. Ouyang, T. Meier, E. Gnecco, T. Glatzel, A. Filippov, A. Baratoff, M. Urbakh, E. Meyer
AVS conference, 2015-10-22, San José, (US).
Single-Molecule Experiments to Explore Friction And Adhesion (Invited)
R. Pawlak , S. Kawai, A. Baratoff, W.G. Ouyang, T. Meier, E. Gnecco, T. Glatzel, A. Filippov, A. Baratoff, M. Urbakh, E. Meyer
AVS conference, 2015-10-22, San José, (US).
Patterning of C60 Islands on Organic Layer Compound Crystals
Th. Glatzel S. Freund, A. Hinaut, R. Pawlak, Shi-Xia Liu, S. Decurtins, E. Meyer and
8th International Workshop on Nanoscale Pattern Formation at Surfaces, 2015-07-14, Krakow, (Poland), Abstract (PDF).
Intricacies Of Moiré Patterns At The Atomic Level: A Scanning Probe Microscopy Perspective
D. Yildiz, M. Kisiel, O. Gurlu, and E. Meyer
Ecotrib2015, 2015-06-25, Lugano, (Switzerland).
Investigation Of Morphological And Electronic Properties Of Moiré Patterns By Scanning Probe Microscopy
D. Yildiz, M. Kisiel, O. Gurlu, and E. Meyer
The International Conference on Understanding and Controlling Nano and Mesoscale Friction, 2015-06-24, Istanbul, (Turkey).
Atomic-scale friction sensed by a single molecule
R. Pawlak , W. Ouyang, A.E. Filippov, L. Kalikhman, S. Kawai, T. Glatzel, E. Gnecco, A. Baratoff, Q. Zheng, O. Hod, M. Urbakh, E. Meyer
COSTNanotribo, 2015-06-22, Istanbul, (Turkey).
Investigation Of Morphological And Electronic Properties Of Moiré Patterns By Scanning Probe Microscopy
D. Yildiz, M. Kisiel, O. Gurlu, and E. Meyer
Swiss Nano Convention 2015, 2015-05-27, Neuchâtel, (Switzerland).
Scanning Probe Microscopy (SPM) study of moiré patterns on rotated graphene layer on Highly Oriented Pyrolytic Graphite (HOPG)
D. Yildiz , S. Sen, M. Kisiel, O. Gulseren, E. Meyer, and O. Gurlu
DPG Spring Meeting, 2015-03-19, Berlin, (Germany).
Dissipation at large separation (Ed. E. Gnecco and E. Meyer)
M. Kisiel, M. Langer, U. Gysin, S. Rast, E. Meyer, D.W. Lee
Fundamentals of Friction and Wear on the Nanoscale (Edited b, Vol. 2, (Chap. 26), (2015), 609-626, pdf.
Non-contact friction
M. Kisiel, M. Samadashvili, U. Gysin, E. Meyer
Noncontact Atomic Force Microscopy (Edited by S. Morita, F.J, Vol.3, (2015), 93-110, pdf.
Noncontact Atomic Force Microscope Dissipation Reveals a Central Peak of SrTiO3 Structural Phase Transition
M. Kisiel, F. Pellegrini, G. E. Santoro, M. Samadashvili, R. Pawlak, A. Benassi, U. Gysin, R. Buzio, A. Gerbi, E. Meyer, & E. Tosatti
Phys. Rev. Lett., 115, (2015), 046101, pdf.
Atomic-scale friction sensed by a single molecule
R. Pawlak , W. Ouyang, A.E. Filippov, L. Kalikhman, S. Kawai, T. Glatzel, E. Gnecco, A. Baratoff, Q. Zheng, O. Hod, M. Urbakh, E. Meyer
ncAFM2014, 2014-08-08, Tsukuba, (Japan).
Giant frictional dissipation peaks and charge-density-wave slips at the NbSe2 surface
M. Langer, M. Kisiel, R. Pawlak, F. Pelligrini, G. E. Santoro, R. Buzio, A. Gerbi, G. Balakrishnan, A. Baratoff, E. Tosatti, E. Meyer
Nature Materials, 13, (2014), 173-177, pdf.
Quantifying the atomic-level mechanics of single long physisorbed molecular chains
S. Kawai, M. Koch, E. Gnecco, A. Sadeghi, R. Pawlak, Th. Glatzel, J. Schwarz, S. Goedecker, S. Hecht, A. Baratoff, L. Grill, and E. Meyer
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 111, (11), (2014), 3968–3972, pdf.
Energy Loss Triggered by Atomic-Scale Lateral Force
F. Federici Canova, S. Kawai, C. de Capitani, K. Kan’no, Th. Glatzel, B. Such, A. S. Foster, and E. Meyer
Phys. Rev. Lett., 110, (20), (2013), 203203, pdf.
Energy dissipation in dynamic force microscopy on KBr(001) correlated with atomic-scale adhesion phenomena
S. Kawai, Th. Glatzel, B. Such, S. Koch, A. Baratoff, and E. Meyer
Phys. Rev. B, 86, (24), (2012), 245419, pdf.
Suppression of electronic friction on Nb films in the superconducting state
M. Kisiel, E. Gnecco, U. Gysin, L. Marot, S. Rast, E. Meyer
Nature Materials, 10, (1), (2011), pdf.
Orientation dependent molecular friction on organic layer compound crystals
G. Fessler, I. Zimmermann, Th. Glatzel, E. Gnecco, P. Steiner, R. Roth, T. D. Keene, S.-X. Liu, S. Decurtins, and E. Meyer
Appl. Phys. Lett., 98, (8), (2011), 083119, pdf.
Direct mapping of the lateral force gradient on Si(111)-7x7
S. Kawai, N. Sasaki, and H. Kawakatsu
Phys. Rev. B, 79, (2009), 195412, pdf.
Nano-scale friction of polystyrene in air and in vacuum
S. Bistac, A. Ghorbal, M. Schmitt, E. Gnecco, and E. Meyer
Polymer, 49, (2008), 3780, pdf.
Atomic-scale stick slip
R. Bennewitz, E. Meyer, M. Bammerlin, T. Gyalog
in: Fundamentals of Tribology and Bridging the Gap Between t, (2001), Kluwer Academic Publ.
Atomic friction studies on well defined surfaces
R. Bennewitz, E. Gnecco, T. Gyalog, and E. Meyer
Tribology Letters, 10, (2001), 51.
Atomic friction studies on well defined surfaces
R. Bennewitz, E. Gnecco, T. Gyalog, and E. Meyer
Tribology Letters, 10, (2001), 51.
Molecular dynamics study of scanning force microscopy on self-assembled monolayers
Bonner T, Baratoff A
SURFACE SCIENCE, 127, (1), (1997), 1082-1086.
Molecular dynamics study of scanning force microscopy on self-assembled monolayers
Bonner T, Baratoff A
SURFACE SCIENCE, 127, (1), (1997), 1082-1086.
MD-Simulations of scanning force microscopy on self-assembled monolayers
T. Bonner, A. Baratoff, H.-J. Güntherodt
HELVETICA PHYSICA ACTA, 68, (2), (1995), 199-200.
MD-Simulations of scanning force microscopy on self-assembled monolayers
T. Bonner, A. Baratoff, H.-J. Güntherodt
HELVETICA PHYSICA ACTA, 68, (2), (1995), 199-200.