Detection of a diffusive two-dimensional gas of amphiphiles by lateral force microscopy

Richard K. Workman, Anneliese M. Schmidt, Srinivas Manne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Sparsely adsorbed amphiphiles with high surface mobility play a central role in surfactant spreading and in the nucleation and growth of self-assembled monolayers. Here we show that lateral force microscopy can directly visualize a gas phase of adsorbed long-chain alcohols and fatty acids. The two-dimensional (2D) gas originates from the edge evaporation of dense monolayer domains, transferred to a mica surface by microcontact printing. Monolayer corrals act as 2D containers, eventually saturating the enclosed area with the trapped gas phase. Scratching a small hole in the corral allows the gas to leak out of its container, and monitoring this transport process provides a rough estimate of the surface diffusion constant. Our results suggest that friction measurement and mapping can detect amphiphile densities down to 1% of a monolayer, making this technique useful in studying the early stages of monolayer formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3248-3253
Number of pages6
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 15 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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