First Advisor

Andres La Rosa

Date of Publication

Fall 11-21-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Applied Physics






Mesoscopic phenomena (Physics) -- Measurement, Atomic force microscopy -- Research, Acoustic microscopy -- Research, Scanning probe microscopy -- Research, Viscoelasticity -- Measurement



Physical Description

1 online resource (xix, 164 pages)


Complete understanding of the physics underlying the changes in viscoelasticity, relaxation time, and phase transitions that mesoscopic fluid-like systems undergo at solid-liquid interfaces or under confinement remains one of the major challenges in condensed matter physics. Moreover, studies of confined mesoscopic fluid films are relevant to technological areas like adhesion, wetting processes and nanotribology.

This thesis addresses the interaction between two sliding solids interfaces separated by a nanometer sized gap, with emphasis on the role of the mesoscopic fluid film trapped between them. For this purpose we integrated two acoustic techniques, recently introduced by our group, into a sub-nanometer precision and thermal drift corrected scanning probe microscope (SPM): the shear-force/acoustic near-field Microscope (SANM) and the whispering gallery acoustic sensing (WGAS). The SANM monitors the sound waves originating in the probe-layer interaction while the motion of the probe is monitored by the WGAS. Additionally, we decouple the interaction forces by using frequency modulation and measure the local tunneling current to help establish the location of the substrate. Our results show a strong correlation between the elastic component of the probe's interaction and the SANM amplitude, as well as between the phase lag response of the fluid relative to the probe's excitation (represented by the SANM phase) and the onset of the probe-sample contact region. Frequency modulation SANM-WGAS brings a new acoustic sensing mechanism to the challenging characterization of fluid-like physical systems at the nanometer scale.


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