Time-resolved observation of thermally activated rupture of a capillary-condensed water nanobridge

Appl. Phys. Lett. 106, 013102 (2015)

Wan Bak, Baekman Sung, Jongwoo Kim, Soyoung Kwon, Bongsu Kim and Wonho Jhe

The capillary-condensed liquid bridge is one of the most ubiquitous forms of liquid in nature and contributes significantly to adhesion and friction of biological molecules as well as microscopic objects. Despite its important role in nanoscience and technology, the rupture process of the bridge is not well understood and needs more experimental works. Here, we report real-time observation of rupture of a capillary-condensed water nanobridge in ambient condition. During slow and stepwise stretch of the nanobridge, we measured the activation time for rupture, or the latency time required for the bridge breakup. By statistical analysis of the time-resolved distribution of activation time, we show that rupture is a thermally activated stochastic process and follows the Poisson statistics. In particular, from the Arrhenius law that the rupture rate satisfies, we estimate the position-dependent activation energies for the capillary-bridge rupture.