A surface forces apparatus (SFA) measures the forces between two surfaces as a function of the surface separation distance. It is regarded as an essential tool for studying the interactions between two surfaces. However, sample surfaces used for the conventional SFA measurements have been mostly limited to thin (ca. 2-3 μm) micas, which are coated with silver layers (ca. 50 nm) on their back, due to the requirement of the distance determination by transmission mode optical interferometry called FECO (fringes of equal chromatic order). The FECO method has the advantage of determining the absolute distance, so it should be important to increase the availability of samples other than mica, which is chemically nonreactive and also requires significant efforts for cleaving. Recently, silica sheets have been occasionally used in place of mica, which increases the possibility of surface modification. However, in this case, the silver layer side of the sheet is glued on a cylindrical quartz disc using epoxy resin, which is not stable in organic solvents and can be easily swollen or dissolved. The preparation of substrates more stable under severe conditions, such as in organic solvents, is necessary for extending application of the measurement. In this study, we report an easy method for preparing stable silica layers of ca. 2 μm in thickness deposited on gold layers (41 nm)/silica discs by sputtering, then annealed to enhance the stability. The obtained silica layers were stable and showed no swelling in organic solvents such as ethanol and toluene.
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