The surface topography and nanomechanical attributes of two samples of cotton fibers, namely, A and B, were characterized with various operation modes of an Atomic Force Microscope (AFM). The surface topography and friction images of the fibers were obtained in contact mode. The nanomechanical properties images—i.e., adhesion and deformation—were obtained in force tapping mode. The results indicate that the surface nanomechanical and nanoscale frictional properties of the fibers vary significantly between two samples. The plots of friction versus normal force of the fibers’ surface from both samples are fitted to the equation of single-asperity, adhesion-controlled friction. Nevertheless, within the range of the applied normal force, the friction curves of sample A surfaces show a characteristic transition phase. That is, under low normal forces, the friction curves closely conform with the Hertzian component of friction; after the transition takes place at higher normal forces, the friction curves follow Amontons’ law of friction. We demonstrated that the transition phase corresponds to a state at which the cuticle layer molecules are displaced from the fibers’ surface. The average adhesion force of the samples is consistent with the average friction signal strength collected under low normal forces.
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