Polymer Engineering Faculty Research

Recent advances in the surface forces apparatus (SFA) technique

Younjin Min, The University of Akron


The surface forces apparatus (SFA) has been used for many years to measure the physical forces between surfaces, such as van der Waals (including Casimir) and electrostatic forces in vapors and liquids, adhesion and capillary forces, forces due to surface and liquid structure (e.g. solvation and hydration forces), polymer, steric and hydrophobic interactions, bio-specific interactions as well as friction and lubrication forces. Here we describe recent developments in the SFA technique, specifically the SFA 2000, its simplicity of operation and its extension into new areas of measurement of both static and dynamic forces as well as both normal and lateral (shear and friction) forces. The main reason for the greater simplicity of the SFA 2000 is that it operates on one central simple-cantilever spring to generate both coarse and fine motions over a total range of seven orders of magnitude (from millimeters to ångstroms). In addition, the SFA 2000 is more spacious and modulated so that new attachments and extra parts can easily be fitted for performing more extended types of experiments (e.g. extended strain friction experiments and higher rate dynamic experiments) as well as traditionally non-SFA type experiments (e.g. scanning probe microscopy and atomic force microscopy) and for studying different types of systems.