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Force Meter for Molecular Bonds

Adhesive force between individual molecules determined experimentally for the first time

Jülich, 17 August 2012 – How strongly superglue, magnetic clamps and clamp connections adhere to each other can be determined fairly precisely by mechanical load tests. The case is quite different on the microscopic level. To date, how strongly a single molecule adheres to a surface could not be directly measured. In the current issue of the journal Physical Review Letters (DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.109.076102), Jülich physicists present a new method which could change all that. Using an atomic force microscope, they directly measured the adhesive force of individual molecules on surfaces. They were also able to specifically determine for the first time the contributions made by different bonding types such as the van der Waals forces and the chemical bonds.

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