Examining the role of load dependent bond strain on atomic scale defect nucleation in nanoscopic contacts
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In this work we have utilized in situ AFM imaging to directly probe atomic scale defect nucleation on mica surfaces in aqueous environments. By controlling the local pressure between the AFM tip and surface as well as the local concentration of OH" in solution, we can systematically separate out purely mechanically induced bond breaking from that of OH" catalyzed bond scission, allowing us to evaluate the synergistic interplay of bond strain and chemical reactivity that underpins tribochemical reactions. As demonstrated for mica, control over the tip-sample contact pressure as a function of OH" concentration will allow us to measure the defect nucleation directly from the atomic scale AFM images, and to extract the load dependent changes in the local activation barrier for M-0 bond scission.
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