Apr 20th, 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM


Scanning Probe Microscopy of Interfacial Water Confined Between Silica Surfaces

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Byung Kim


Scanning probe microscope (SPM) techniques are employed to study the structure and mechanical properties of water confined between two silica surfaces. Water molecules adjacent to other materials, such as in the vicinity of biological cell membranes, rearrange to form “interfacial water.” The interfacial water behaves differently from bulk water to a substatial degree in its structure and mechanical properties. Probing the structure of interfacial water and its mechanical properties is crucial from understanding of the biomolecular functions to the micro-machine development. Even with such importance, however, the interfacial water is difficult to observe with ordinary analytic techniques because of its delicate nature near the surface. The SPM’s excellent distance and force control capability allows for investigating the interfacial water near the sample surface. A cantilever based optical interfacial force microscope (COIFM), a newly developed SPM technique at Boise State University, was used to probe the ordered structure of the interfacial water in the direction perpendicular to the surface. A Non-Contact (NC) AFM was used to image the arrangement of the interfacial water in the direction parallel to the surface. The COIFM and NC-AFM measurements were performed on silica surfaces, the most abundant substance on the earth’s crust, for various relative humidity. The COIFM data show periodic features as the tip approaches the surface, showing single water-layer ordering effect of the interfacial water. In each layered region, the force decreases nonlinearly as the gap decreases. The NC-AFM images show that some water bundles lay down and some stand up, supporting the COIFM data. The humidity dependent data shows how the structure of water evolves as the thickness of the water film changes from droplets to monolayers to multilayers on the silica surface. The origin of the observed structure of the interfacial water is discussed with a simple two-dimensional self-assembly theory.