Nanoscale Friction and Adhesion Behavior of Graphene: The Effect of Sliding History
Wednesday, November 2, 2011, 9:20 am, Room 208
As a prominent example of a two-dimensional (2-D) material, graphene has drawn much attention because of its extraordinary physical properties. However, in contrast to its electronic and thermal properties, the mechanical and tribological properties of graphene remained poorly understood. These properties are interesting scientifically because of the extremely high strength and low defect density of the bonds, and the intrinsically wrinkled structure of graphene. These properties are important for integrating graphene with devices. We studied the friction and adhesion between nanoscale single-asperity tips and exfoliated graphene sheets using atomic force microscopy (AFM). We have previously reported that friction on few-layer graphene (and other 2-D materials) depends on the number of layers, whereby the friction is higher for fewer layers. The layer-dependence is associated with the presence of a “strengthening” effect, where the static friction force builds up as scanning proceeds, most evident for the thinnest layers. This suggested that the increase was due to the build-up of a puckered area in front of the tip due to the high compliance of the graphene and adhesion with the tip. However, adhesion between the tip and graphene, measured by regular AFM force-displacement spectroscopy, does not change appreciably when the layer number changes. This result agrees with trends obtained from finite element method (FEM) simulations. However, we observed that both friction and adhesion exhibit a contact history dependence. For friction on single layer graphene, the strengthening is not present initially, but rather, it gradually builds up as the tip is rastered over the surface. This suggests that the puckered structure requires repeated scanning before it geometrically develops to a point where friction is enhanced. In addition, we find that adhesion is enhanced if it is measured without breaking the tip-graphene contact after sliding the AFM tip over the same area for a sufficient distance. This sliding-history dependence was not observed on bulk graphite or SiO2 substrates, and thus appears to be yet another unique feature of the tribological behavior of atomic sheets These two observations strongly suggest that the geometric structure of the sheet and the contact area it makes with the tip is significantly affected by the sliding history.
 Lee, C., Q. Li, W. Kalb, X. Liu, H. Berger, R. Carpick, and J. Hone, Frictional Characteristics of Atomically Thin Sheets. Science, 2010. 328 (5974): p. 76.