Tribology Letters

, Volume 50, Issue 1, pp 49–57 | Cite as

Correlation Between Probe Shape and Atomic Friction Peaks at Graphite Step Edges

  • Yalin DongEmail author
  • Xin Z. Liu
  • Philip Egberts
  • Zhijiang Ye
  • Robert W. Carpick
  • Ashlie Martini
Original Paper


Molecular dynamics simulation and atomic force microscopy are used to study the nature of friction between nanoscale tips and graphite step edges. Both techniques show that the width of the lateral force peak as the probe moves up a step is directly correlated with the size and shape of the tip. The origin of that relationship is explored and the similarities and differences between the measurements and simulations are discussed. The observations suggest that the relationship between lateral force peak width and tip geometry can be used as a real-time monitor for tip wear during atomic scale friction measurements.


Molecular dynamics (MD) simulation  Atomic force microscopy (AFM) Atomic friction 



The authors would like to thank the U.S. National Science Foundation for its support through Grants No. CMMI 1068552 and CMMI-1068741. We are grateful to Dr. Hendrik Hölscher and Dr. Qunyang Li for the insightful discussions when initiating this work and to Tevis D. B. Jacobs and Graham Wabiszewski for their help to acquire TEM images. P.E. would like to acknowledge financial support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yalin Dong
    • 1
    Email author
  • Xin Z. Liu
    • 2
  • Philip Egberts
    • 2
  • Zhijiang Ye
    • 3
  • Robert W. Carpick
    • 2
  • Ashlie Martini
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Mechanical EngineeringPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  2. 2.Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied MechanicsUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.School of EngineeringUniversity of California MercedMercedUSA

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