Deformation and adhesion of elastomer poly(dimethylsiloxane) colloidal AFM probes

Langmuir. 2007 Aug 28;23(18):9293-302. doi: 10.1021/la700941c. Epub 2007 Jul 27.


We report on the synthesis and characterization of elastomer colloidal AFM probes. Poly(dimethylsiloxane) microparticles, obtained by water emulsification and cross-linking of viscous prepolymers, are glued to AFM cantilevers and used for contact mechanics investigations on smooth substrates: in detail cyclic loading-unloading experiments are carried on ion-sputtered mica, the deformation rate and dwell time being separately controlled. We analyze load-penetration curves and pull-off forces with models due respectively to Zener; Maugis and Barquins; and Greenwood and Johnson and account for bulk creep, interfacial viscoelasticity, and structural rearrangements at the polymer-substrate interface. A good agreement is found between experiments and theory, with a straightforward estimation of colloidal probes' material parameters. We suggest the use of such probes for novel contact mechanics experiments involving fully reversible deformations at the submicrometer scale.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adhesiveness
  • Colloids
  • Dimethylpolysiloxanes / chemistry*
  • Elastomers / chemistry*
  • Microscopy, Atomic Force
  • Models, Chemical


  • Colloids
  • Dimethylpolysiloxanes
  • Elastomers