Nanometer-thick liquid lubricant films are useful for the lubrication of miniaturized mechanical systems, such as hard disk drives or microelectromechanical systems. However, there are no established methods for measuring the mechanical properties of such thin films, which can be an obstacle to the optimal design of lubrication systems. We previously developed a highly sensitive method for measuring shear forces, which we called the fiber-wobbling method (FWM). In the FWM, we used a ball-ended optical fiber to probe shear and we measured the friction force acting on the probe tip by detecting the deflection of the fiber. By this means we succeeded in measuring friction forces in nanometer-thick liquid lubricant films. However, we could not evaluate the mechanical properties of the films quantitatively because the contact area between the probe tip and lubricant film was unknown. Here, we developed a method for measuring the contact area during shearing of nanometer-thick liquid lubricant films in the FWM.

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