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Journal Article

Rupture of molecular thin films observed in atomic force microscopy. I. Theory


Butt,  Hans-Jürgen
MPI for Polymer Research, Max Planck Society;

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Butt, H.-J., & Franz, V. (2002). Rupture of molecular thin films observed in atomic force microscopy. I. Theory. Physical Review E, 66(3): 031601. doi:10.1103/PhysRevE.66.031601.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-000F-6525-E
In atomic force microscope studies of molecular thin films, a defined jump of the tip through the film is often observed once a certain threshold force has been exceeded. Here, we present a theory to describe this film rupture and to relate microscopic parameters to measurable quantities. We assume that the tip has to overcome an activation energy before the film ruptures. A universal relation between the force dependence of the activation energy and the approaching velocity of the tip is derived. Two complementary models for calculating the activation energy are presented: a continuum nucleation model and a discrete molecular model. Both models predict a narrow distribution of yield forces in agreement with experimental results.