Kinetics of capillary condensation in nanoscopic sliding friction
The velocity and humidity dependence of nanoscopic sliding friction has been studied on CrN and diamondlike carbon surfaces with an atomic force microscope. The surface wettability is found to be decisive. Partially hydrophilic surfaces show a logarithmic decrease of friction with increasing velocity, the slope of which varies drastically with humidity, whereas on partially hydrophobic surfaces we confirm the formerly reported logarithmic increase. A model for the thermally activated nucleation of water bridges between tip and sample asperities fully reproduces the experimental data.