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1.  Dynamic nanoindentation by instrumented nanoindentation and force microscopy: a comparative review 
Viscoelasticity is a complex yet important phenomenon that drives material response at different scales of time and space. Burgeoning interest in nanoscale dynamic material mechanics has driven, and been driven by two key techniques: instrumented nanoindentation and atomic force microscopy. This review provides an overview of fundamental principles in nanoindentation, and compares and contrasts these two techniques as they are used for characterization of viscoelastic processes at the nanoscale.
PMCID: PMC3869246  PMID: 24367751
atomic force microscopy; loss modulus; nanoindentation; storage modulus; viscoelasticity
2.  Dimer/tetramer motifs determine amphiphilic hydrazine fibril structures on graphite 
Fibril structures are produced at a solvent–graphite interface by self-assembly of custom-designed symmetric and asymmetric amphiphilic benzamide derivatives bearing C10 aliphatic chains. Scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM) studies reveal geometry-dependent internal structures for the elementary fibrils of the two molecules that are distinctly different from known mesophase bulk structures. The structures are described by building-block models based on hydrogen-bonded dimer and tetramer precursors of hydrazines. The closure and growth in length of building units into fibrils takes place through van der Waals forces acting between the dangling alkyl chains. The nanoscale morphology is a consequence of the basic molecular geometry, where it follows that a closure to form a fibril is not always likely for the doubly substituted hydrazine. Therefore, we also observe crystallite formation.
PMCID: PMC3458612  PMID: 23019562
fibrils; graphite; hydrazide; hydrazine; interface; self-assembly; STM
3.  Polymer blend lithography: A versatile method to fabricate nanopatterned self-assembled monolayers 
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 [1].
PMCID: PMC3458608  PMID: 23019558
breath figure; nanopatterned template; polymer blend lithography (PBL); self-assembled monolayer (SAM); self assembly; spin coating; vapor phase
4.  Mapping mechanical properties of organic thin films by force-modulation microscopy in aqueous media 
The mechanical properties of organic and biomolecular thin films on surfaces play an important role in a broad range of applications. Although force-modulation microscopy (FMM) is used to map the apparent elastic properties of such films with high lateral resolution in air, it has rarely been applied in aqueous media. In this letter we describe the use of FMM to map the apparent elastic properties of self-assembled monolayers and end-tethered protein thin films in aqueous media. Furthermore, we describe a simple analysis of the contact mechanics that enables the selection of FMM imaging parameters and thus yields a reliable interpretation of the FMM image contrast.
PMCID: PMC3458590  PMID: 23019540
acoustic atomic force microscopy; biomolecules; elastic modulus mapping; nanomechanical characterization; self-assembled monolayers
5.  Colloidal lithography for fabricating patterned polymer-brush microstructures 
We exploit a series of robust, but simple and convenient colloidal lithography (CL) approaches, using a microsphere array as a mask or as a guiding template, and combine this with surface-initiated atom-transfer radical polymerization (SI-ATRP) to fabricate patterned polymer-brush microstructures. The advantages of the CL technique over other lithographic approaches for the fabrication of patterned polymer brushes are (i) that it can be carried out with commercially available colloidal particles at a relatively low cost, (ii) that no complex equipment is required to create the patterned templates with micro- and nanoscale features, and (iii) that polymer brush features are controlled simply by changing the size or chemical functionality of the microspheres or the substrate.
PMCID: PMC3388364  PMID: 23016144
atom-transfer radical polymerization; colloidal lithography; patterning; self-assembled microsphere monolayer
6.  Variations in the structure and reactivity of thioester functionalized self-assembled monolayers and their use for controlled surface modification 
Thioester-functionalized, siloxane-anchored, self-assembled monolayers provide a powerful tool for controlling the chemical and physical properties of surfaces. The thioester moiety is relatively stable to long-term storage and its structure can be systematically varied so as to provide a well-defined range of reactivity and wetting properties. The oxidation of thioesters with different-chain-length acyl groups allows for very hydrophobic surfaces to be transformed into very hydrophilic, sulfonic acid-bearing, surfaces. Systematic variation in the length of the polymethylene chain has also allowed us to examine how imbedding reaction sites at various depths in a densely packed monolayer changes their reactivity. π-Systems (benzene and thiophene) conjugated to the thioester carbonyl enable the facile creation of photoreactive surfaces that are able to use light of different wavelengths. These elements of structural diversity combine with the utility of the hydrophilic, strongly negatively charged sulfonate-bearing surface to constitute an important approach to systematic surface modification.
PMCID: PMC3323910  PMID: 22496994
siloxane-anchored self-assembled monolayers; sulfonated interfaces; surface chemistry
7.  Self-assembly of octadecyltrichlorosilane: Surface structures formed using different protocols of particle lithography 
Particle lithography offers generic capabilities for the high-throughput fabrication of nanopatterns from organosilane self-assembled monolayers, which offers the opportunity to study surface-based chemical reactions at the molecular level. Nanopatterns of octadecyltrichlorosilane (OTS) were prepared on surfaces of Si(111) using designed protocols of particle lithography combined with either vapor deposition, immersion, or contact printing. Changing the physical approaches for applying molecules to masked surfaces produced OTS nanostructures with different shapes and heights. Ring nanostructures, nanodots and uncovered pores of OTS were prepared using three protocols, with OTS surface coverage ranging from 10% to 85%. Thickness measurements from AFM cursor profiles were used to evaluate the orientation and density of the OTS nanostructures. Differences in the thickness and morphology of the OTS nanostructures are disclosed based on atomic force microscopy (AFM) images. Images of OTS nanostructures prepared on Si(111) that were generated by the different approaches provide insight into the self-assembly mechanism of OTS, and particularly into the role of water and solvents in hydrolysis and silanation.
PMCID: PMC3304319  PMID: 22428102
atomic force microscopy; nanopatterning; nanostructures; octadecyltrichlorosilane; particle lithography; self-assembled monolayer; self-assembly
8.  Electron-beam patterned self-assembled monolayers as templates for Cu electrodeposition and lift-off 
Self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) of 4'-methylbiphenyl-4-thiol (MBP0) adsorbed on polycrystalline gold substrates served as templates to control electrochemical deposition of Cu structures from acidic solution, and enabled the subsequent lift-off of the metal structures by attachment to epoxy glue. By exploiting the negative-resist behaviour of MBP0, the SAM was patterned by means of electron-beam lithography. For high deposition contrast a two-step procedure was employed involving a nucleation phase around −0.7 V versus Cu2+/Cu and a growth phase at around −0.35 V versus Cu2+/Cu. Structures with features down to 100 nm were deposited and transferred with high fidelity. By using substrates with different surface morphologies, AFM measurements revealed that the roughness of the substrate is a crucial factor but not the only one determining the roughness of the copper surface that is exposed after lift-off.
PMCID: PMC3304313  PMID: 22428101
electrochemical nanotechnology; electrodeposition; lithography; metallic nanostructures; self-assembled monolayers; thiols
9.  Surface functionalization of aluminosilicate nanotubes with organic molecules 
The surface functionalization of inorganic nanostructures is an effective approach for enriching the potential applications of existing nanomaterials. Inorganic nanotubes attract great research interest due to their one-dimensional structure and reactive surfaces. In this review paper, recent developments in surface functionalization of an aluminosilicate nanotube, “imogolite”, are introduced. The functionalization processes are based on the robust affinity between phosphate groups of organic molecules and the aluminol (AlOH) surface of imogolite nanotubes. An aqueous modification process employing a water soluble ammonium salt of alkyl phosphate led to chemisorption of molecules on imogolite at the nanotube level. Polymer-chain-grafted imogolite nanotubes were prepared through surface-initiated polymerization. In addition, the assembly of conjugated molecules, 2-(5’’-hexyl-2,2’:5’,2’’-terthiophen-5-yl)ethylphosphonic acid (HT3P) and 2-(5’’-hexyl-2,2’:5’,2’’-terthiophen-5-yl)ethylphosphonic acid 1,1-dioxide (HT3OP), on the imogolite nanotube surface was achieved by introducing a phosphonic acid group to the corresponding molecules. The optical and photophysical properties of these conjugated-molecule-decorated imogolite nanotubes were characterized. Moreover, poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) chains were further hybridized with HT3P modified imogolite to form a nanofiber hybrid.
PMCID: PMC3304320  PMID: 22428100
chemisorption; imogolite; inorganic nanotube; surface functionalization.
10.  Substrate-mediated effects in photothermal patterning of alkanethiol self-assembled monolayers with microfocused continuous-wave lasers 
In recent years, self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) have been demonstrated to provide promising new approaches to nonlinear laser processing. Most notably, because of their ultrathin nature, indirect excitation mechanisms can be exploited in order to fabricate subwavelength structures. In photothermal processing, for example, microfocused lasers are used to locally heat the substrate surface and initiate desorption or decomposition of the coating. Because of the strongly temperature-dependent desorption kinetics, the overall process is highly nonlinear in the applied laser power. For this reason, subwavelength patterning is feasible employing ordinary continuous-wave lasers. The lateral resolution, generally, depends on both the type of the organic monolayer and the nature of the substrate. In previous studies we reported on photothermal patterning of distinct types of SAMs on Si supports. In this contribution, a systematic study on the impact of the substrate is presented. Alkanethiol SAMs on Au-coated glass and silicon substrates were patterned by using a microfocused laser beam at a wavelength of 532 nm. Temperature calculations and thermokinetic simulations were carried out in order to clarify the processes that determine the performance of the patterning technique. Because of the strongly temperature-dependent thermal conductivity of Si, surface-temperature profiles on Au/Si substrates are very narrow ensuring a particularly high lateral resolution. At a 1/e spot diameter of 2 µm, fabrication of subwavelength structures with diameters of 300–400 nm is feasible. Rapid heat dissipation, though, requires high laser powers. In contrast, patterning of SAMs on Au/glass substrates is strongly affected by the largely distinct heat conduction within the Au film and in the glass support. This results in broad surface temperature profiles. Hence, minimum structure sizes are larger when compared with respective values on Au/Si substrates. The required laser powers, though, are more than one order of magnitude lower. Also, the laser power needed for patterning decreases with decreasing Au layer thickness. These results demonstrate the impact of the substrate on the overall patterning process and provide new perspectives in photothermal laser patterning of ultrathin organic coatings.
PMCID: PMC3304314  PMID: 22428098
femtosecond lasers; nonlinear laser processing; self-assembled monolayers; subwavelength patterning; ultrathin resists
11.  Direct-write polymer nanolithography in ultra-high vacuum 
Polymer nanostructures were directly written onto substrates in ultra-high vacuum. The polymer ink was coated onto atomic force microscope (AFM) probes that could be heated to control the ink viscosity. Then, the ink-coated probes were placed into an ultra-high vacuum (UHV) AFM and used to write polymer nanostructures on surfaces, including surfaces cleaned in UHV. Controlling the writing speed of the tip enabled the control over the number of monolayers of the polymer ink deposited on the surface from a single to tens of monolayers, with higher writing speeds generating thinner polymer nanostructures. Deposition onto silicon oxide-terminated substrates led to polymer chains standing upright on the surface, whereas deposition onto vacuum reconstructed silicon yielded polymer chains aligned along the surface.
PMCID: PMC3304329  PMID: 22428096
additive lithography; polymer; scanning probe lithography; ultra high vacuum
12.  Octadecyltrichlorosilane (OTS)-coated ionic liquid drops: Micro-reactors for homogenous catalytic reactions at designated interfaces 
An ionic liquid (IL), 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride ([Bmim]Cl) can assemble on prefabricated carboxylic acid–terminated chemical patterns on octadecyltrichlorosilane (OTS) film. The chemical pattern controls the position, shape and size of the IL on the surface. After the IL assembly – by incubating IL drops assembled on sample surface in an OTS silane vapor – an OTS layer was coated on the IL drop surface which encapsulated the IL drop. The OTS-coated capsule can exist stably under aqueous solution. The OTS coating protected the IL drops from being instantaneously dissolved by other solutions. We found that a homogenous catalyst (FeCl3) dissolved in [Bmim]Cl can be assembled together on the chemical patterns and subsequently encapsulated together with [Bmim]Cl by OTS coating. The pinhole defects within the vapor-coated silane layer provide space for the catalyst inside the capsule and reactants outside the capsule to meet and react. When the OTS-coated capsule containing a FeCl3/IL mixture was soaked under H2O2 solution, the Fe3+ ions catalyzed the decomposition reaction of hydrogen peroxide at the vapor-coated OTS-water interface. Since the shape and position of the interface is defined by the underneath chemical pattern, our findings show that the OTS-coated IL drops assembled on chemical patterns can be used as novel micro-reactors. This allows homogenous catalytic reactions to occur at the designated interfaces.
PMCID: PMC3304328  PMID: 22428094
AFM; catalyst encapsulation; chemical pattern; ionic liquid; OTS
13.  X-ray spectroscopy characterization of self-assembled monolayers of nitrile-substituted oligo(phenylene ethynylene)s with variable chain length 
Self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) of nitrile-substituted oligo(phenylene ethynylene) thiols (NC-OPEn) with a variable chain length n (n ranging from one to three structural units) on Au(111) were studied by synchrotron-based high-resolution X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and near-edge absorption fine-structure spectroscopy. The experimental data suggest that the NC-OPEn molecules form well-defined SAMs on Au(111), with all the molecules bound to the substrate through the gold–thiolate anchor and the nitrile tail groups located at the SAM–ambient interface. The packing density in these SAMs was found to be close to that of alkanethiolate monolayers on Au(111), independent of the chain length. Similar behavior was found for the molecular inclination, with an average tilt angle of ~33–36° for all the target systems. In contrast, the average twist of the OPEn backbone (planar conformation) was found to depend on the molecular length, being close to 45° for the films comprising the short OPE chains and ~53.5° for the long chains. Analysis of the data suggests that the attachment of the nitrile moiety, which served as a spectroscopic marker group, to the OPEn backbone did not significantly affect the molecular orientation in the SAMs.
PMCID: PMC3304316  PMID: 22428092
nitrile substitution; oligo(phenylene ethynylene); self-assembled monolayers; twist angle; X-ray absorption spectroscopy
14.  Self-assembly at solid surfaces 
PMCID: PMC3257508  PMID: 22259766
15.  Mechanical characterization of carbon nanomembranes from self-assembled monolayers 
This paper reports on the mechanical characterization of carbon nanomembranes (CNMs) with a thickness of 1 nm that are fabricated by electron-induced crosslinking of aromatic self-assembled monolayers (SAMs). A novel type of in situ bulge test employing an atomic force microscope (AFM) is utilized to investigate their mechanical properties. A series of biphenyl-based molecules with different types of terminal and/or anchor groups were used to prepare the CNMs, such as 4'-[(3-trimethoxysilyl)propoxy]-[1,1'-biphenyl]-4-carbonitrile (CBPS), 1,1'-biphenyl-4-thiol (BPT) and 4-nitro-1,1'-biphenyl-4-thiol (NBPT). The elastic properties, viscoelastic behaviors and ultimate tensile strength of these biphenyl-based CNMs are investigated and discussed.
PMCID: PMC3257509  PMID: 22259767
bulge test; carbon nanomembrane; mechanical characterization; self-assembled monolayers; two-dimensional materials
16.  Direct monitoring of opto-mechanical switching of self-assembled monolayer films containing the azobenzene group 
The potential for manipulation and control inherent in molecule-based motors holds great scientific and technological promise. Molecules containing the azobenzene group have been heavily studied in this context. While the effects of the cis–trans isomerization of the azo group in such molecules have been examined macroscopically by a number of techniques, modulations of the elastic modulus upon isomerization in self-assembled films were not yet measured directly. Here, we examine the mechanical response upon optical switching of bis[(1,1'-biphenyl)-4-yl]diazene organized in a self-assembled film on Au islands, using atomic force microscopy. Analysis of higher harmonics by means of a torsional harmonic cantilever allowed real-time extraction of mechanical data. Quantitative analysis of elastic modulus maps obtained simultaneously with topographic images show that the modulus of the cis-form is approximately twice that of the trans-isomer. Quantum mechanical and molecular dynamics studies show good agreement with this experimental result, and indicate that the stiffer response in the cis-form comprises contributions both from the individual molecular bonds and from intermolecular interactions in the film. These results demonstrate the power and insights gained from cutting-edge AFM technologies, and advanced computational methods.
PMCID: PMC3257510  PMID: 22259768
AFM; azobenzene; elastic modulus; molecular dynamics; nanomechanics; photoswitch; quantum mechanics computation; self-assembled monolayer
17.  Self-assembled monolayers and titanium dioxide: From surface patterning to potential applications 
The ability to control the properties of self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) attached to solid surfaces and the rare photocatalytic properties of titanium dioxide provide a rationale for the study of systems comprising both. Such systems can be realized in the form of SAMs grown on TiO2 or, in a complementary manner, as TiO2 grown on SAMs. Accordingly, the current status of knowledge regarding SAMs on TiO2 is described. Photocatalytic phenomena that are of specific relevance to SAMs, such as remote degradation, and cases where SAMs were used to study photocatalytic phenomena, are discussed as well. Mastering of micro-patterning is a key issue en route to a successful assimilation of a variety of titanium dioxide based devices. Accordingly, particular attention is given to the description of a variety of methods and techniques aimed at utilizing the photocatalytic properties of titanium dioxide for patterning. Reports on a variety of applications are discussed. These examples, representing the areas of photovoltaics, microelectronics, microelectromechanics, photocatalysis, corrosion prevention and even biomedicine should be regarded as appetizers paving the way for further studies to be performed.
PMCID: PMC3257511  PMID: 22259769
photocatalysis; remote degradation; self-assembled monolayers; titanium dioxide
18.  Approaches to nanostructure control and functionalizations of polymer@silica hybrid nanograss generated by biomimetic silica mineralization on a self-assembled polyamine layer 
We report the rational control of the nanostructure and surface morphology of a polyamine@silica nanoribbon-based hybrid nanograss film, which was generated by performing a biomimetic silica mineralization reaction on a nanostructured linear polyethyleneimine (LPEI) layer preorganized on the inner wall of a glass tube. We found that the film thickness, size and density of the nanoribbons and the aggregation/orientation of the nanoribbons in the film were facile to tune by simple adjustment of the biomimetic silicification conditions and LPEI self-assembly on the substrate. Our LPEI-mediated nanograss process allows the facile and programmable generation of a wide range of nanostructures and surface morphologies without the need for complex molecular design or tedious techniques. This ribbon-based nanograss has characteristics of a LPEI@silica hybrid structure, suggesting that LPEI, as a polymeric secondary amine, is available for subsequent chemical reaction. This feature was exploited to functionalize the nanograss film with three representative species, namely porphyrin, Au nanoparticles and titania. Of particular note, the novel silica@titania composite nanograss surface demonstrated the ability to convert its wetting behavior between the extreme states (superhydrophobic–superhydrophilic) by surface hydrophobic treatment and UV irradiation. The anatase titania component in the nanograss film acts as a highly efficient photocatalyst for the decomposition of the low-surface-energy organic components attached to the nanosurface. The ease with which the nanostructure can be controlled and facilely functionalized makes our nanograss potentially important for device-based application in microfluidic, microreactor and biomedical fields.
PMCID: PMC3257501  PMID: 22259759
biomimetic silica mineralization; linear polyethyleneimine; nanofiber; nanograss; thin film
19.  Direct Visualization of Protease Action on Collagen Triple Helical Structure 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(6):e11043.
Enzymatic processing of extracellular matrix (ECM) macromolecules by matrix metalloproteases (MMPs) is crucial in mediating physiological and pathological cell processes. However, the molecular mechanisms leading to effective physiological enzyme-ECM interactions remain elusive. Only scant information is available on the mode by which matrix proteases degrade ECM substrates. An example is the enzymatic degradation of triple helical collagen II fragments, generated by the collagenase MMP-8 cleavage, during the course of acute inflammatory conditions by gelatinase B/MMP-9. As is the case for many other matrix proteases, it is not clear how MMP-9 recognizes, binds and digests collagen in this important physiological process. We used single molecule imaging to directly visualize this protease during its interaction with collagen fragments. We show that the initial binding is mediated by the diffusion of the protease along the ordered helix on the collagen ¾ fragment, with preferential binding of the collagen tail. As the reaction progressed and prior to collagen degradation, gelatin-like morphologies resulting from the denaturation of the triple helical collagen were observed. Remarkably, this activity was independent of enzyme proteolysis and was accompanied by significant conformational changes of the working protease. Here we provide the first direct visualization of highly complex mechanisms of macromolecular interactions governing the enzymatic processing of ECM substrates by physiological protease.
PMCID: PMC2886829  PMID: 20585385

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