Microslips to "avalanches" in confined, molecular layers of ionic liquids

R. M. Espinosa-Marzal, A. Arcifa, A. Rossi, N. D. Spencer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have measured forces between mica surfaces across two hydrophobic ionic liquids with a surface forces apparatus. Both surface-adsorbed water and alkyl-chain length on the imidazolium cation influence the structure of the nanoconfined film and the dynamics of film-thickness transitions. Friction shows accumulative microslips as precursors to collective "avalanches" that abruptly reduce friction momentarily. This behavior is interpreted as a consequence of interlayer ion correlations within the 1 to 2 nm thick film; we identify this to be analogous to the friction response of crackling noise systems over a broad range of sizes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-184
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2014


  • crackling noise systems
  • friction
  • ionic liquids
  • nanoconfined liquids
  • stick-slip
  • surface forces apparatus
  • water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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