Scientific Reports 4, Article number: 6499 (2014)
Bongsu Kim, Soyoung Kwon, Hyosik Mun, Sangmin An & Wonho Jhe
The hydration water layer (HWL), a ubiquitous form of water on the hydrophilic surfaces, exhibits anomalous characteristics different from bulk water and plays an important role in interfacial interactions. Despite extensive studies on the mechanical properties of HWL, one still lacks holistic understanding of its energy dissipation, which is critical to characterization of viscoelastic materials as well as identification of nanoscale dissipation processes. Here we address energy dissipation of nanoconfined HWL between two atomically flat hydrophilic solid surfaces (area of ~120 nm2) by small amplitude-modulation, noncontact atomic force microscopy. Based on the viscoelastic hydration-force model, the average dissipation energy is ~1 eV at the tapping amplitude (~0.1 nm) of the tip. In particular, we determine the accurate HWL thickness of ~6 layers of water molecules, as similarly observed on biological surfaces. Such a long-range interaction of HWL should be considered in the nanoscale phenomena such as friction, collision and self-assembly.