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March 4th, 2004

Water's shrinking waistline

Bring a needle tip close to a surface in moist air, and sooner or later a water meniscus will form between the tip and surface, bridging the two and binding them together. But will that still happen for a tip that is sharp on the nanoscale, like those used in scanning-probe microscopes? Researchers in the USA and Korea say that such a meniscus cannot fall below about five molecular diameters in width, even if the tip is so sharp that it ends in a single atom.

* Nature

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