Probing biopolymer films with scanning force methods

Greg Haugstad, Wayne L. Gladfelter, Elizabeth B. Weberg, Rolf T. Weberg, Timothy D. Weatherill

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Scanning force microscopy of thin gelatin films on mica reveals two distinct film components with characteristic frictional, morphological and adsorptive signatures. A high-friction film 14 nm thick completely wets the mica surface, while a low-friction minority component is present primarily as porous islands on top of the high-friction layer. Additional domains of extremely high friction within the majority component are detected in frictional images obtained with a blunt, gelatin-covered tip; no corresponding topographic differences are imaged. A high-force scanning procedure remarkably transforms the majority component into the low-friction phase if a sufficient amount of water is present in or on the film. The nanostructure of both components is imaged using a nanometer-scale asperity of gelatin attached to the SFM tip. The anticipated network structure of gelatin is observed on the high-friction majority phase. The low-friction phase is interpreted as moieties of intramolecularly-folded gelatin, with thickness (1.5±0.2 nm) equal to the diameter of the collagen-fold triple helix, containing substantial structural water.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-258
Number of pages6
JournalMaterials Research Society Symposium - Proceedings
StatePublished - Jan 1 1995
EventProceedings of the 1994 MRS Fall Meeting - Boston, MA, USA
Duration: Nov 28 1994Dec 1 1994


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