Bias-controlled friction of InAs nanowires on a silicon nitride layer studied by atomic force microscopy

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By studying how nanowires lying on a surface bend when pushed by an atomic force microscopy tip we are able to measure the friction between them and the substrate. Here, we show how the friction between InAs nanowires and an insulating silicon nitride layer varies when a dc voltage is applied to the tip during manipulation. The bias charges the capacitor formed by the wire and the grounded silicon back contact. Electrostatic forces increase the contact pressure and allow us to tune the friction between the wire and the silicon nitride surface. Using nanowires of about 40-70 nm diameter and a few microns in length we have applied biases in the range +12 to -12 V. A monotonic increase of the sliding friction with voltage was observed. This increase in friction with the normal force implies that the mesoscopic nanowire-surface system behaves like a macroscopic contact, despite the nanometer size of the contact in the direction of motion. The demonstrated bias-controlled friction has potential applications in MEMS/NEMS devices.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Condensed Matter Physics
Original languageEnglish
Article number035403
JournalPhysical Review B (Condensed Matter and Materials Physics)
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Publication categoryResearch