Instrumentation and tool development

The energy dissipated by surface interactions in soft matter can lead to large elastic deformation. In addition, for measurements under wet or flooded conditions, viscous dissipation is also coupled with the surface and mechanical response. As a result, there is a need for instrumentation capable of characterizing surface forces, adhesion, and tribology of soft materials along with spatiotemporal changes such as the local strain or fluid flow profile. Therefore our group is constantly developing tools and methods to characterize surface forces and adhesion for soft or structured materials. Similarly we are also working on developing materials that display a quantitative colorimetric response that is caused by mechanical perturbation.
We have constructed a custom built multifunctional force microscope (MFM) capable of measuring forces spanning 5 orders of magnitude with high resolution. The MFM also combines large travel range, nanometer displacement resolution, and simultaneous in-situ imaging. The MFM was recently featured in Review of Scientific Reports and was the subject of a Scilight article.

Related Publications:

  • P. Roberts, G. Pilkington, Y. Wang, and J. Frechette, “A Multifunctional Force Microscope for Soft Matter with in situ Imaging”, Review of Scientific Instruments, 89, 043902, 2018. 10.1063/1.5018332
  • R.  Gupta and J. Frechette, “Interferometry of surfaces with well-defined topography in the surface force apparatus”, Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, 412, 82-88, 2013. 10.1016/j.jcis.2013.09.008