We recently introduced a method that allows the controlled deposition of nanoscale metallic patterns at defined locations using the tip of an atomic force microscope (AFM) as a “mechano-electrochemical pen”, locally activating a passivated substrate surface for site-selective electrochemical deposition. Here, we demonstrate the reversibility of this process and study the long-term stability of the resulting metallic structures. The remarkable stability for more than 1.5 years under ambient air without any observable changes can be attributed to self-passivation. After AFM-activated electrochemical deposition of copper nanostructures on a polycrystalline gold film and subsequent AFM imaging, the copper nanostructures could be dissolved by reversing the electrochemical potential. Subsequent AFM-tip-activated deposition of different copper nanostructures at the same location where the previous structures were deleted, shows that there is no observable memory effect, i.e., no effect of the previous writing process on the subsequent writing process. Thus, the four processes required for reversible information storage, “write”, “read”, “delete” and “re-write”, were successfully demonstrated on the nanometer scale.
atomic force microscopy; electrochemical deposition; electrochemistry; nanoelectronics; nanofabrication; nanolithography; nanotechnology; MEMS and NEMS; reversible processes; scanning probe microscopy and lithography
Long, straight mesoscale silver wires have been fabricated from AgNO3 electrolyte via electrodeposition without the help of templates, additives, and surfactants. Although the wire growth speed is very fast due to growth under non-equilibrium conditions, the wire morphology is regular and uniform in diameter. Structural studies reveal that the wires are single-crystalline, with the  direction as the growth direction. A possible growth mechanism is suggested. Auger depth profile measurements show that the wires are stable against oxidation under ambient conditions. This unique system provides a convenient way for the study of self-organization in electrochemical environments as well as for the fabrication of highly-ordered, single-crystalline metal nanowires.
crystal growth; electrochemistry; electrodeposition; mesowires; nanoelectrochemistry; nanowires; self-organization; silver nanowires; silver nitrate; stability
atomic layer deposition; batteries; energy conversion; electrochemistry; electrolysis; fuel cells; photovoltaics; solar cells; thin films
For many applications it is desirable to have nanoparticles positioned on top of a given substrate well separated from each other and arranged in arrays of a certain geometry. For this purpose, a method is introduced combining the bottom-up self-organization of precursor-loaded micelles providing Au nanoparticles (NPs), with top-down electron-beam lithography. As an example, 13 nm Au NPs are arranged in a square array with interparticle distances >1 µm on top of Si substrates. By using these NPs as masks for a subsequent reactive ion etching, the square pattern is transferred into Si as a corresponding array of nanopillars.
electron beam lithography; nanoparticles; positioning; self-assembling; unconventional lithography
Polymer blend lithography (PBL) is a spin-coating-based technique that makes use of the purely lateral phase separation between two immiscible polymers to fabricate large area nanoscale patterns. In our earlier work (Huang et al. 2012), PBL was demonstrated for the fabrication of patterned self-assembled monolayers. Here, we report a new method based on the technique of polymer blend lithography that allows for the fabrication of metal island arrays or perforated metal films on the nanometer scale, the metal PBL. As the polymer blend system in this work, a mixture of polystyrene (PS) and poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA), dissolved in methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) is used. This system forms a purely lateral structure on the substrate at controlled humidity, which means that PS droplets are formed in a PMMA matrix, whereby both phases have direct contact both to the substrate and to the air interface. Therefore, a subsequent selective dissolution of either the PS or PMMA component leaves behind a nanostructured film which can be used as a lithographic mask. We use this lithographic mask for the fabrication of metal patterns by thermal evaporation of the metal, followed by a lift-off process. As a consequence, the resulting metal nanostructure is an exact replica of the pattern of the selectively removed polymer (either a perforated metal film or metal islands). The minimum diameter of these holes or metal islands demonstrated here is about 50 nm. Au, Pd, Cu, Cr and Al templates were fabricated in this work by metal PBL. The wavelength-selective optical transmission spectra due to the localized surface plasmonic effect of the holes in perforated Al films were investigated and compared to the respective hole diameter histograms.
localized surface plasmonic resonance; metal islands; metal nanostructures; metal polymer blend lithography (metal PBL); nano-patterned template; nanoscale discs; optical transmission; perforated metal film; polymer phase separation; poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA); polystyrene (PS); self-assembly; spin-coating; surface plasmons
A rapid and cost-effective lithographic method, polymer blend lithography (PBL), is reported to produce patterned self-assembled monolayers (SAM) on solid substrates featuring two or three different chemical functionalities. For the pattern generation we use the phase separation of two immiscible polymers in a blend solution during a spin-coating process. By controlling the spin-coating parameters and conditions, including the ambient atmosphere (humidity), the molar mass of the polystyrene (PS) and poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA), and the mass ratio between the two polymers in the blend solution, the formation of a purely lateral morphology (PS islands standing on the substrate while isolated in the PMMA matrix) can be reproducibly induced. Either of the formed phases (PS or PMMA) can be selectively dissolved afterwards, and the remaining phase can be used as a lift-off mask for the formation of a nanopatterned functional silane monolayer. This “monolayer copy” of the polymer phase morphology has a topographic contrast of about 1.3 nm. A demonstration of tuning of the PS island diameter is given by changing the molar mass of PS. Moreover, polymer blend lithography can provide the possibility of fabricating a surface with three different chemical components: This is demonstrated by inducing breath figures (evaporated condensed entity) at higher humidity during the spin-coating process. Here we demonstrate the formation of a lateral pattern consisting of regions covered with 1H,1H,2H,2H-perfluorodecyltrichlorosilane (FDTS) and (3-aminopropyl)triethoxysilane (APTES), and at the same time featuring regions of bare SiOx. The patterning process could be applied even on meter-sized substrates with various functional SAM molecules, making this process suitable for the rapid preparation of quasi two-dimensional nanopatterned functional substrates, e.g., for the template-controlled growth of ZnO nanostructures .
breath figure; nanopatterned template; polymer blend lithography (PBL); self-assembled monolayer (SAM); self assembly; spin coating; vapor phase
We report on the electronic transport through nanoscopic metallic contacts under the influence of external light fields. Various processes can be of relevance here, whose underlying mechanisms can be studied by comparing different kinds of atomic contacts. For this purpose two kinds of contacts, which were established by electrochemical deposition, forming a gate-controlled quantum switch (GCQS), have been studied. We demonstrate that in these kinds of contacts thermal effects resulting from local heating due to the incident light, namely thermovoltage and the temperature dependences of the electrical resistivity and the electrochemical (Helmholtz) double layer are the most prominent effects.
atom transistor; atomic contacts; cyclic voltammogram; electrochemically closed break junction; electronic transport; (Helmholtz) double layer; light-induced signals; temperature-induced changes; thermovoltage
We propose a geometry for a piezoelectric SPM sensor that can be used for combined AFM/LFM/STM. The sensor utilises symmetry to provide a lateral mode without the need to excite torsional modes. The symmetry allows normal and lateral motion to be completely isolated, even when introducing large tips to tune the dynamic properties to optimal values.
atomic force microscopy; lateral force microscopy; lateral forces; mechanical vibrations; scanning probe microscopy; scanning tunnelling microscopy
We report a sonochemical method of functionalizing superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPION) with (3-aminopropyl)triethoxysilane (APTES). Mechanical stirring, localized hot spots and other unique conditions generated by an acoustic cavitation (sonochemical) process were found to induce a rapid silanization reaction between SPION and APTES. FTIR, XPS and XRD measurements were used to demonstrate the grafting of APTES on SPION. Compared to what was reported in literature, the results showed that the silanization reaction time was greatly minimized. More importantly, the product displayed superparamagnetic behaviour at room temperature with a more than 20% higher saturation magnetization.
(3-aminopropyl)triethoxysilane (APTES); functionalization; nanoparticles; silanization; sonochemical; superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPION)
We investigated single-layer graphene on SiC(0001) by atomic force and tunneling current microscopy, to separate the topographic and electronic contributions from the overall landscape. The analysis revealed that the roughness evaluated from the atomic force maps is very low, in accord with theoretical simulations. We also observed that characteristic electron scattering effects on graphene edges and defects are not accompanied by any out-of-plane relaxations of carbon atoms.
AFM; electron scattering; graphene; SiC; STM
In this work polyhedron-like gold and sphere-like silver nanoparticles (NPs) were manipulated on an oxidized Si substrate to study the dependence of the static friction and the contact area on the particle geometry. Measurements were performed inside a scanning electron microscope (SEM) that was equipped with a high-precision XYZ-nanomanipulator. To register the occurring forces a quartz tuning fork (QTF) with a glued sharp probe was used. Contact areas and static friction forces were calculated by using different models and compared with the experimentally measured force. The effect of NP morphology on the nanoscale friction is discussed.
contact mechanics; nanomanipulation; nanoparticles; nanotribology; scanning electron microscopy (SEM)
In this study, we report on CdS/ZnS nanocrystals as a luminescence probe for bioimaging applications. CdS nanocrystals capped with a ZnS shell had enhanced luminescence intensity, stronger stability and exhibited a longer lifetime compared to uncapped CdS. The CdS/ZnS nanocrystals were stabilized in Pluronic F127 block copolymer micelles, offering an optically and colloidally stable contrast agents for in vitro and in vivo imaging. Photostability test exhibited that the ZnS protective shell not only enhances the brightness of the QDs but also improves their stability in a biological environment. An in-vivo imaging study showed that F127-CdS/ZnS micelles had strong luminescence. These results suggest that these nanoparticles have significant advantages for bioimaging applications and may offer a new direction for the early detection of cancer in humans.
bioimaging; CdS/ZnS quantum dots; Pluronic F127
The aim of the present overview article is to raise awareness of an essential aspect that is usually not accounted for in the modelling of electron transport for focused-electron-beam-induced deposition (FEBID) of nanostructures: Surface excitations are on the one hand responsible for a sizeable fraction of the intensity in reflection-electron-energy-loss spectra for primary electron energies of up to a few kiloelectronvolts and, on the other hand, they play a key role in the emission of secondary electrons from solids, regardless of the primary energy. In this overview work we present a general perspective of recent works on the subject of surface excitations and on low-energy electron transport, highlighting the most relevant aspects for the modelling of electron transport in FEBID simulations.
focused-electron-beam-induced deposition (FEBID); Monte Carlo simulation of electron transport; surface excitations; secondary-electron emission
Static conditions represent an important shortcoming of many in vitro experiments on the cellular uptake of nanoparticles. Here, we present a versatile microfluidic device based on acoustic streaming induced by surface acoustic waves (SAWs). The device offers a convenient method for introducing fluid motion in standard cell culture chambers and for mimicking capillary blood flow. We show that shear rates over the whole physiological range in sample volumes as small as 200 μL can be achieved. A precise characterization method for the induced flow profile is presented and the influence of flow on the uptake of Pt-decorated CeO2 particles by endothelial cells (HMEC-1) is demonstrated. Under physiological flow conditions the particle uptake rates for this system are significantly lower than at low shear conditions. This underlines the vital importance of the fluidic environment for cellular uptake mechanisms.
acoustic streaming; cellular uptake; flow; nanoparticles; sedimentation; shear; surface acoustic wave (SAW)
In the last decade, building biohybrid materials has gained considerable interest in the field of nanotechnology. This paper describes an original design for bionanoarchitectures with interesting properties and potential bioapplications. Multilamellar lipid vesicles (obtained by hydration of a dipalmitoyl phosphatidylcholine thin film) with and without cholesterol were labelled with a natural photopigment (chlorophyll a), which functioned as a sensor to detect modifications in the artificial lipid bilayers. These biomimetic membranes were used to build non-covalent structures with single-walled carbon nanotubes. Different biophysical methods were employed to characterize these biohybrids such as: UV–vis absorption and emission spectroscopy, zeta potential measurements, AFM and chemiluminescence techniques. The designed, carbon-based biohybrids exhibited good physical stability, good antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, and could be used as biocoating materials. As compared to the cholesterol-free samples, the cholesterol-containing hybrid structures demonstrated better stability (i.e., their zeta potential reached the value of −36.4 mV), more pronounced oxygen radical scavenging ability (affording an antioxidant activity of 73.25%) and enhanced biocidal ability, offering inhibition zones of 12.4, 11.3 and 10.2 mm in diameter, against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Enterococcus faecalis, respectively.
antibacterial activity; antioxidant properties; artificial lipid bilayers; carbon nanotubes; chlorophyll
Free 4-undecenoxyphthalocyanine molecules were covalently bonded to Si(100) and porous silicon through thermic hydrosilylation of the terminal double bonds of the undecenyl chains. The success of the anchoring strategy on both surfaces was demonstrated by the combination of X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy with control experiments performed adopting the commercially available 2,3,9,10,16,17,23,24-octakis(octyloxy)-29H,31H-phthalocyanine, which is not suited for silicon anchoring. Moreover, the study of the shape of the XPS N 1s band gave relevant information on the interactions occurring between the anchored molecules and the substrates. The spectra suggest that the phthalocyanine ring interacts significantly with the flat Si surface, whilst ring–surface interactions are less relevant on porous Si. The surface-bonded molecules were then metalated in situ with Co by using wet chemistry. The efficiency of the metalation process was evaluated by XPS measurements and, in particular, on porous silicon, the complexation of cobalt was confirmed by the disappearance in the FTIR spectra of the band at 3290 cm−1 due to –NH stretches. Finally, XPS results revealed that the different surface–phthalocyanine interactions observed for flat and porous substrates affect the efficiency of the in situ metalation process.
metalation; phthalocyanine; silicon surface; surface functionalization; X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS)
We present a theoretical framework for the dynamic calibration of the higher eigenmode parameters (stiffness and optical lever inverse responsivity) of a cantilever. The method is based on the tip–surface force reconstruction technique and does not require any prior knowledge of the eigenmode shape or the particular form of the tip–surface interaction. The calibration method proposed requires a single-point force measurement by using a multimodal drive and its accuracy is independent of the unknown physical amplitude of a higher eigenmode.
atomic force microscopy; calibration; multimodal AFM; multifrequency AFM
This paper presents experiments on Nafion® proton exchange membranes and numerical simulations illustrating the trade-offs between the optimization of compositional contrast and the modulation of tip indentation depth in bimodal atomic force microscopy (AFM). We focus on the original bimodal AFM method, which uses amplitude modulation to acquire the topography through the first cantilever eigenmode, and drives a higher eigenmode in open-loop to perform compositional mapping. This method is attractive due to its relative simplicity, robustness and commercial availability. We show that this technique offers the capability to modulate tip indentation depth, in addition to providing sample topography and material property contrast, although there are important competing effects between the optimization of sensitivity and the control of indentation depth, both of which strongly influence the contrast quality. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the two eigenmodes can be highly coupled in practice, especially when highly repulsive imaging conditions are used. Finally, we also offer a comparison with a previously reported trimodal AFM method, where the above competing effects are minimized.
amplitude modulation; bimodal; multifrequency atomic force microscopy; indentation depth modulation; Nafion; open loop; proton exchange membranes; trimodal
The instantaneous displacement, velocity and acceleration of a cantilever tip impacting onto a graphite surface are reconstructed. The total dissipated energy and the dissipated energy per cycle of each excited flexural mode during the tip interaction is retrieved. The tip dynamics evolution is studied by wavelet analysis techniques that have general relevance for multi-mode atomic force microscopy, in a regime where few cantilever oscillation cycles characterize the tip–sample interaction.
band excitation; multifrequency atomic force microscopy (AFM); phase reference; wavelet transforms