Friction force microscopy in ultrahigh vacuum: An atomic-scale study on KBr(001)

R. Lüthi, E. Meyer, L. Howald, M. Bammerlin, H. J. Güntherodt, T. Gyalog, Thomas R Huser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


We present an atomic-scale study on friction performed by a bidirectional atomic force microscope operated in ultrahigh vacuum. Experiments on surfaces of in situ cleaved KBr crystals are presented. On a μm scale the cleavage structure with monoatomic steps of 3.5 ± 0.3 Å is revealed. On the atomically flat terraces, atomic-scale resolution is achieved. The resolved square lattice shows a periodicity of 4.7 Å and corrugations of 0.3-0.7 Å and exhibits the cubic symmetry of KBr(001). The lateral (frictional) force map shows all characteristics of the stick-slip movement of the probing tip. From analysis of the friction loops, the kinetic friction force was determined as a function of load. For a load regime of -4 to 10 nN, lateral force corrugations ranging from 1 to 5 nN were found. A comparison with a novel theoretical model is discussed qualitatively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-138
Number of pages10
JournalTribology Letters
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Friction force microscopy
  • Potassium bromide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Mechanical Engineering


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