Dynamic Properties of Molecularly Thin Liquid Films

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Science  08 Apr 1988:
Vol. 240, Issue 4849, pp. 189-191
DOI: 10.1126/science.240.4849.189


An experimental technique is described for simultaneously measuring the static and dynamic interactions of very thin liquid films between two surfaces as they are moved normally or laterally relative to each other. Film thickness can be measured and controlled to 1 angstrom. Initial results are presented of the transition in the physical properties of liquid films only one molecular layer thick to thicker films whose properties are practically indistinguishable from the bulk. In particular, the results show that two molecularly smooth surfaces, when close together in simple liquids, slide (shear) past each other while separated by a discrete number of molecular layers, and that the frictional force is "quantized" with the number of layers.