Studying Soft Interfaces with Shear Waves: Principles and Applications of the Quartz Crystal Microbalance (QCM)

The response of the quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) to loading with a diverse set of samples is reviewed in a consistent frame. After a brief introduction to the advanced QCMs, the governing equation (the small-load approximation) is derived. Planar films and adsorbates are modeled with the acoustic multilayer formalism. In liquid environments, viscoelastic spectros-copy and high-frequency rheology are possible, even on layers with a thickness in the monolayer range. For particulate samples, rheology is replaced by contact mechanics. The contact stiffness can be derived. Because the stress at the contact is large, nonlinear effects are seen. Partial slip, in particular, can be studied in detail. Advanced topics include structured samples and the extension of the small-load approximation to its tensorial version.

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