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Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 6286595, 12 pages
Research Article

Numerical Study of Hydrodynamic Forces for AFM Operations in Liquid

1Deggendorf Institute of Technology, Dieter-Görlitz-Platz 1, 94469 Deggendorf, Germany
2Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), Bellaterra, 08193 Barcelona, Spain

Correspondence should be addressed to Guenther Benstetter

Received 7 April 2017; Accepted 28 June 2017; Published 26 July 2017

Academic Editor: David Alsteens

Copyright © 2017 Tobias Berthold et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


For advanced atomic force microscopy (AFM) investigation of chemical surface modifications or very soft organic sample surfaces, the AFM probe tip needs to be operated in a liquid environment because any attractive or repulsive forces influenced by the measurement environment could obscure molecular forces. Due to fluid properties, the mechanical behavior of the AFM cantilever is influenced by the hydrodynamic drag force due to viscous friction with the liquid. This study provides a numerical model based on computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and investigates the hydrodynamic drag forces for different cantilever geometries and varying fluid conditions for Peakforce Tapping (PFT) in liquids. The developed model was verified by comparing the predicted values with published results of other researchers and the findings confirmed that drag force dependence on tip speed is essentially linear in nature. We observed that triangular cantilever geometry provides significant lower drag forces than rectangular geometry and that short cantilever offers reduced flow resistance. The influence of different liquids such as ultrapure water or an ethanol-water mixture as well as a temperature induced variation of the drag force could be demonstrated. The acting forces are lowest in ultrapure water, whereas with increasing ethanol concentrations the drag forces increase.