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Pulling Apart Titanium Oxide Surfaces

Researchers slowly pull apart tiny bits of a titanium oxide mineral called rutile. The red dots near the top show the starting point. As the bottom half is pulled down, the top half stays attached by van der Waals forces -- until, that is, the pull becomes too great. The tips are about a thousand times skinnier than a human hair. The scientists used an atomic force microscope to do the pulling and viewed the event within an environmental transmission electron microscope under life-like conditions.

Credit: Xin Zhang, Yang He, Maria L. Sushko, Jia Liu, Langli Luo, James J. De Yoreo, Scott X. Mao, Chongmin Wang, and Kevin M. Rosso.

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