The catalytic chemical vapour deposition (c-CVD) technique was applied in the synthesis of vertically aligned arrays of nitrogen-doped carbon nanotubes (N-CNTs). A mixture of toluene (main carbon source), pyrazine (1,4-diazine, nitrogen source) and ferrocene (catalyst precursor) was used as the injection feedstock. To optimize conditions for growing the most dense and aligned N-CNT arrays, we investigated the influence of key parameters, i.e., growth temperature (660, 760 and 860 °C), composition of the feedstock and time of growth, on morphology and properties of N-CNTs. The presence of nitrogen species in the hot zone of the quartz reactor decreased the growth rate of N-CNTs down to about one twentieth compared to the growth rate of multi-wall CNTs (MWCNTs). As revealed by electron microscopy studies (SEM, TEM), the individual N-CNTs (half as thick as MWCNTs) grown under the optimal conditions were characterized by a superior straightness of the outer walls, which translated into a high alignment of dense nanotube arrays, i.e., 5 × 108 nanotubes per mm2 (100 times more than for MWCNTs grown in the absence of nitrogen precursor). In turn, the internal crystallographic order of the N-CNTs was found to be of a ‘bamboo’-like or ‘membrane’-like (multi-compartmental structure) morphology. The nitrogen content in the nanotube products, which ranged from 0.0 to 3.0 wt %, was controlled through the concentration of pyrazine in the feedstock. Moreover, as revealed by Raman/FT-IR spectroscopy, the incorporation of nitrogen atoms into the nanotube walls was found to be proportional to the number of deviations from the sp2-hybridisation of graphene C-atoms. As studied by XRD, the temperature and the [pyrazine]/[ferrocene] ratio in the feedstock affected the composition of the catalyst particles, and hence changed the growth mechanism of individual N-CNTs into a ‘mixed base-and-tip’ (primarily of the base-type) type as compared to the purely ‘base’-type for undoped MWCNTs.
carbon nanotubes; catalytic chemical vapour deposition; crystallinity; nitrogen doping; vertically aligned nanotube arrays
Oriented attachment has created a great debate about the description of crystal growth throughout the last decade. This aggregation-based model has successfully described biomineralization processes as well as forms of inorganic crystal growth, which could not be explained by classical crystal growth theory. Understanding the nanoparticle growth is essential since physical properties, such as the magnetic behavior, are highly dependent on the microstructure, morphology and composition of the inorganic crystals. In this work, the underlying nanoparticle growth of cobalt ferrite nanoparticles in a bioinspired synthesis was studied. Bioinspired syntheses have sparked great interest in recent years due to their ability to influence and alter inorganic crystal growth and therefore tailor properties of nanoparticles. In this synthesis, a short synthetic version of the protein MMS6, involved in nanoparticle formation within magnetotactic bacteria, was used to alter the growth of cobalt ferrite. We demonstrate that the bioinspired nanoparticle growth can be described by the oriented attachment model. The intermediate stages proposed in the theoretical model, including primary-building-block-like substructures as well as mesocrystal-like structures, were observed in HRTEM measurements. These structures display regions of substantial orientation and possess the same shape and size as the resulting discs. An increase in orientation with time was observed in electron diffraction measurements. The change of particle diameter with time agrees with the recently proposed kinetic model for oriented attachment.
bioinspired synthesis; cobalt ferrite nanoparticles; nanoparticle growth; oriented attachment; polypeptide
Scanning probe microscopy (SPM) plays an important role in the investigation of molecular adsorption. The possibility to probe the molecule–surface interaction while tuning its strength through SPM tip-induced single-molecule manipulation has particularly promising potential to yield new insights. We recently reported experiments, in which 3,4,9,10-perylene-tetracarboxylic-dianhydride (PTCDA) molecules were lifted with a qPlus-sensor and analyzed these experiments by using force-field simulations. Irrespective of the good agreement between the experiment and those simulations, systematic inconsistencies remained that we attribute to effects omitted from the initial model. Here we develop a more realistic simulation of single-molecule manipulation by non-contact AFM that includes the atomic surface corrugation, the tip elasticity, and the tip oscillation amplitude. In short, we simulate a full tip oscillation cycle at each step of the manipulation process and calculate the frequency shift by solving the equation of motion of the tip. The new model correctly reproduces previously unexplained key features of the experiment, and facilitates a better understanding of the mechanics of single-molecular junctions. Our simulations reveal that the surface corrugation adds a positive frequency shift to the measurement that generates an apparent repulsive force. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the scatter observed in the experimental data points is related to the sliding of the molecule across the surface.
atomic force microscopy (AFM); force-field model; 3,4,9,10-perylene-tetracarboxylic-dianhydride (PTCDA); qPlus; single-molecule manipulation
Density functional theory is utilized to articulate a particular generic deconstruction of the electrode/electro-catalyst assembly for the cathode process during water splitting. A computational model was designed to determine how alloying elements control the fraction of H2 released during zirconium oxidation by water relative to the amount of hydrogen picked up by the corroding alloy. This model is utilized to determine the efficiencies of transition metals decorated with hydroxide interfaces in facilitating the electro-catalytic hydrogen evolution reaction. A computational strategy is developed to select an electro-catalyst for hydrogen evolution (HE), where the choice of a transition metal catalyst is guided by the confining environment. The latter may be recast into a nominal pressure experienced by the evolving H2 molecule. We arrived at a novel perspective on the uniqueness of oxide supported atomic Pt as a HE catalyst under ambient conditions.
confinement; corrosion; DFT; electro-catalysis; hydrogen evolution
The irradiation-induced cross-linking of aromatic self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) is a universal method for the fabrication of ultrathin carbon nanomembranes (CNMs). Here we demonstrate the cross-linking of aromatic SAMs due to exposure to helium ions. The distinction of cross-linked from non-cross-linked regions in the SAM was facilitated by transferring the irradiated SAM to a new substrate, which allowed for an ex situ observation of the cross-linking process by helium ion microscopy (HIM). In this way, three growth regimes of cross-linked areas were identified: formation of nuclei, one-dimensional (1D) and two-dimensional (2D) growth. The evaluation of the corresponding HIM images revealed the dose-dependent coverage, i.e., the relative monolayer area, whose density of cross-links surpassed a certain threshold value, as a function of the exposure dose. A complete cross-linking of aromatic SAMs by He+ ion irradiation requires an exposure dose of about 850 µC/cm2, which is roughly 60 times smaller than the corresponding electron irradiation dose. Most likely, this is due to the energy distribution of secondary electrons shifted to lower energies, which results in a more efficient dissociative electron attachment (DEA) process.
carbon nanomembranes; dissociative electron attachment; helium ion microscopy; ion beam-organic molecules interactions; self-assembled monolayers
Background: Non-equilibrium charge transport in superconductors has been investigated intensely in the 1970s and 1980s, mostly in the vicinity of the critical temperature. Much less attention has been paid to low temperatures and the role of the quasiparticle spin.
Results: We report here on nonlocal transport in superconductor hybrid structures at very low temperatures. By comparing the nonlocal conductance obtained by using ferromagnetic and normal-metal detectors, we discriminate charge and spin degrees of freedom. We observe spin injection and long-range transport of pure, chargeless spin currents in the regime of large Zeeman splitting. We elucidate charge and spin transport by comparison to theoretical models.
Conclusion: The observed long-range chargeless spin transport opens a new path to manipulate and utilize the quasiparticle spin in superconductor nanostructures.
spintronics; superconductor–ferromagnet hybrids
Selected properties of photovoltaic (PV) structures based on n-type zinc oxide nanorods grown by a low temperature hydrothermal method on p-type silicon substrates (100) are investigated. PV structures were covered with thin films of Al doped ZnO grown by atomic layer deposition acting as transparent electrodes. The investigated PV structures differ in terms of the shapes and densities of their nanorods. The best response is observed for the structure containing closely-spaced nanorods, which show light conversion efficiency of 3.6%.
atomic layer deposition; hydrothermal method; solar cells; zinc oxide; zinc oxide nanorods
Three-dimensionally (3D) nanoarchitectured palladium/nickel (Pd/Ni) catalysts, which were prepared by atomic layer deposition (ALD) on high-aspect-ratio nanoporous alumina templates are investigated with regard to the electrooxidation of formic acid in an acidic medium (0.5 M H2SO4). Both deposition processes, Ni and Pd, with various mass content ratios have been continuously monitored by using a quartz crystal microbalance. The morphology of the Pd/Ni systems has been studied by electron microscopy and shows a homogeneous deposition of granularly structured Pd onto the Ni substrate. X-ray diffraction analysis performed on Ni and NiO substrates revealed an amorphous structure, while the Pd coating crystallized into a fcc lattice with a preferential orientation along the -direction. Surface chemistry analysis by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy showed both metallic and oxide contributions for the Ni and Pd deposits. Cyclic voltammetry of the Pd/Ni nanocatalysts revealed that the electrooxidation of HCOOH proceeds through the direct dehydrogenation mechanism with the formation of active intermediates. High catalytic activities are measured for low masses of Pd coatings that were generated by a low number of ALD cycles, probably because of the cluster size effect, electronic interactions between Pd and Ni, or diffusion effects.
anodic aluminum oxide; atomic layer deposition (ALD); direct formic acid fuel cells; electrooxidation; nanostructured catalysts; Pd/Ni
The properties of a halogen-covered platinum(111) surface have been studied by using density functional theory (DFT), because halides are often present at electrochemical electrode/electrolyte interfaces. We focused in particular on the halogen-induced work function change as a function of the coverage of fluorine, chlorine, bromine and iodine. For electronegative adsorbates, an adsorption-induced increase of the work function is usually expected, yet we find a decrease of the work function for Cl, Br and I, which is most prominent at a coverage of approximately 0.25 ML. This coverage-dependent behavior can be explained by assuming a combination of charge transfer and polarization effects on the adsorbate layer. The results are contrasted to the adsorption of fluorine on calcium, a system in which a decrease in the work function is also observed despite a large charge transfer to the halogen adatom.
density functional theory; ionicity; polarizability; surface dipole; work function
Multidimensional shearforce-based constant-distance mode scanning electrochemical microscopy (4D SF/CD-SECM) was utilized for the investigation of the activity distribution of oxygen reduction catalysts. Carbon-supported Pt model catalyst powders have been immobilized in recessed microelectrodes and compared to a spot preparation technique. Microcavities serve as platform for the binder-free catalyst sample preparation exhibiting beneficial properties for constant-distance mode SECM imaging concerning modified surface area and catalyst loading. The integration of the redox competition mode of SECM into the detection scheme of the 4D SF/CD mode is demonstrated for specifically adapting high-resolution SECM experiments to powder-based catalyst preparations.
electrocatalysis; oxygen reduction; recessed microelectrodes; redox-competition SECM; SECM; scanning electrochemical microscopy; shearforce-based constant-distance mode
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)
X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) is a widely used tool for studying the chemical composition of materials and it is a standard technique in surface science and technology. XPS is particularly useful for characterizing nanostructures such as carbon nanomaterials due to their reduced dimensionality. In order to assign the measured binding energies to specific bonding environments, reference energy values need to be known. Experimental measurements of the core level signals of the elements present in novel materials such as graphene have often been compared to values measured for molecules, or calculated for finite clusters. Here we have calculated core level binding energies for variously functionalized or defected graphene by delta Kohn–Sham total energy differences in the real-space grid-based projector-augmented wave density functional theory code (GPAW). To accurately model extended systems, we applied periodic boundary conditions in large unit cells to avoid computational artifacts. In select cases, we compared the results to all-electron calculations using an ab initio molecular simulations (FHI-aims) code. We calculated the carbon and oxygen 1s core level binding energies for oxygen and hydrogen functionalities such as graphane-like hydrogenation, and epoxide, hydroxide and carboxylic functional groups. In all cases, we considered binding energy contributions arising from carbon atoms up to the third nearest neighbor from the functional group, and plotted C 1s line shapes by using experimentally realistic broadenings. Furthermore, we simulated the simplest atomic defects, namely single and double vacancies and the Stone–Thrower–Wales defect. Finally, we studied modifications of a reactive single vacancy with O and H functionalities, and compared the calculated values to data found in the literature.
core level; defects; density functional theory; graphene; X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy
The presence of water often gives rise to oxygen adsorption on catalyst surfaces through decomposition of water and the adsorbed oxygen or hydroxide species often occupy important surfaces sites, resulting in a decrease or a total hindrance of other chemical reactions taking place at that site. In this study, we present theoretical investigations of the influence of oxygen adsorption and reduction on pure and nitrogen covered molybdenum nanocluster electro catalysts for electrochemical reduction of N2 to NH3 with the purpose of understanding oxygen and water poisoning of the catalyst. Density functional theory calculations are used in combination with the computational hydrogen electrode approach to calculate the free energy profile for electrochemical protonation of O and N2 species on cuboctahedral Mo13 nanoclusters. The calculations show that the molybdenum nanocluster will preferentially bind oxygen over nitrogen and hydrogen at neutral bias, but under electrochemical reaction conditions needed for nitrogen reduction, oxygen adsorption is severely weakened and the adsorption energy is comparable to hydrogen and nitrogen adsorption. The potentials required to reduce oxygen off the surface are −0.72 V or lower for all oxygen coverages studied, and it is thus possible to (re)activate (partially) oxidized nanoclusters for electrochemical ammonia production, e.g., using a dry proton conductor or an aqueous electrolyte. At lower oxygen coverages, nitrogen molecules can adsorb to the surface and electrochemical ammonia production via the associative mechanism is possible at potentials as low as −0.45 V to −0.7 V.
ammonia; density functional theory; electrocatalysis; nanoparticles; oxygen poisoning
The ion-irradiation induced synthesis of embedded Au nanoparticles (NPs) into glass from islands of Au on a glass substrate is studied in the context of recoiling atoms, sputtering and viscous flow. Cross sectional transmission electron microscopy studies revealed the formation of Au NPs embedded in the glass substrates by the 50 keV Si− ion irradiation of irregularly shaped Au nanostructures on the glass surfaces at a fluence of 3 × 1016 ions/cm2. The depth profiles of Au in the samples were obtained from high-resolution Rutherford backscattering spectrometry studies. The results from TRIDYN simulation reveal the role of various ion-induced processes during the synthesis of the embedded Au NPs, viz. sputtering and recoiling atoms. Simulation and experimental results suggest that the viscous flow is one of the major factors that are responsible for the embedding of Au nanoparticles into the glass substrate.
embedded nanoparticles; ion beam irradiation; recoil implantation
Perylene-3,4,9,10-tetracarboxylic dianhydride (PTCDA) adsorbed on a metal surface is a prototypical organic–anorganic interface. In the past, scanning tunneling microscopy and scanning tunneling spectroscopy studies of PTCDA adsorbed on Ag(111) have revealed differences in the electronic structure of the molecules depending on their adsorption geometry. In the work presented here, high-resolution 3D force spectroscopy measurements at cryogenic temperatures were performed on a surface area that contained a complete PTCDA unit cell with the two possible geometries. At small tip-molecule separations, deviations in the tip-sample forces were found between the two molecule orientations. These deviations can be explained by a different electron density in both cases. This result demonstrates the capability of 3D force spectroscopy to detect even small effects in the electronic properties of organic adsorbates.
atomic force microscopy; organic molecules; three-dimensional (3D) force spectroscopy
The aim of this study was to understand the influence of microstructures found on ventral scales of the biological model, Lampropeltis getula californiae, the California King Snake, on the friction behavior. For this purpose, we compared snake-inspired anisotropic microstructured surfaces to other microstructured surfaces with isotropic and anisotropic geometry. To exclude that the friction measurements were influenced by physico-chemical variations, all friction measurements were performed on the same epoxy polymer. For frictional measurements a microtribometer was used. Original data were processed by fast Fourier transformation (FFT) with a zero frequency related to the average friction and other peaks resulting from periodic stick-slip behavior. The data showed that the specific ventral surface ornamentation of snakes does not only reduce the frictional coefficient and generate anisotropic frictional properties, but also reduces stick-slip vibrations during sliding, which might be an adaptation to reduce wear. Based on this extensive comparative study of different microstructured polymer samples, it was experimentally demonstrated that the friction-induced stick-slip behavior does not solely depend on the frictional coefficient of the contact pair.
fast Fourier transformation; friction; polymer; snake inspired; stick-slip
We study the atomic layer deposition of TiO2 by means of X-ray absorption spectroscopy. The Ti precursor, titanium isopropoxide, was used in combination with H2O on Si/SiO2 substrates that were heated at 200 °C. The low growth rate (0.15 Å/cycle) and the in situ characterization permitted to follow changes in the electronic structure of TiO2 in the sub-nanometer range, which are influenced by quantum size effects. The modified electronic properties may play an important role in charge carrier transport and separation, and increase the efficiency of energy conversion systems.
atomic layer deposition (ALD); charge transfer multiplet; covalency; energy conversion; quantum size effects; titanium dioxide (TiO2); water splitting; X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS)
CdS quantum dots were grown on mesoporous TiO2 films by successive ionic layer adsorption and reaction processes in order to obtain CdS particles of various sizes. AFM analysis shows that the growth of the CdS particles is a two-step process. The first step is the formation of new crystallites at each deposition cycle. In the next step the pre-deposited crystallites grow to form larger aggregates. Special attention is paid to the estimation of the CdS particle size by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). Among the classical methods of characterization the XPS model is described in detail. In order to make an attempt to validate the XPS model, the results are compared to those obtained from AFM analysis and to the evolution of the band gap energy of the CdS nanoparticles as obtained by UV–vis spectroscopy. The results showed that XPS technique is a powerful tool in the estimation of the CdS particle size. In conjunction with these results, a very good correlation has been found between the number of deposition cycles and the particle size.
AFM; CdS; heterojunction; particle size; quantum dots; TiO2; XPS
Platinum and Pt alloy nanoparticles supported on carbon are the state of the art electrocatalysts in proton exchange membrane fuel cells. To develop a better understanding on how material design can influence the degradation processes on the nanoscale, three specific Pt/C catalysts with different structural characteristics were investigated in depth: a conventional Pt/Vulcan catalyst with a particle size of 3–4 nm and two Pt@HGS catalysts with different particle size, 1–2 nm and 3–4 nm. Specifically, Pt@HGS corresponds to platinum nanoparticles incorporated and confined within the pore structure of the nanostructured carbon support, i.e., hollow graphitic spheres (HGS). All three materials are characterized by the same platinum loading, so that the differences in their performance can be correlated to the structural characteristics of each material. The comparison of the activity and stability behavior of the three catalysts, as obtained from thin film rotating disk electrode measurements and identical location electron microscopy, is also extended to commercial materials and used as a basis for a discussion of general fuel cell catalyst design principles. Namely, the effects of particle size, inter-particle distance, certain support characteristics and thermal treatment on the catalyst performance and in particular the catalyst stability are evaluated. Based on our results, a set of design criteria for more stable and active Pt/C and Pt-alloy/C materials is suggested.
catalyst design criteria; degradation mechanisms; fuel cell catalyst; nanoparticles; stability
Amplitude-modulation atomic force microscopy (AM-AFM) is used to determine the retention properties of CaF2 nanoparticles adsorbed on mica and on tooth enamel in liquid. From the phase-lag of the forced cantilever oscillation the local energy dissipation at the detachment point of the nanoparticle was determined. This enabled us to compare different as-synthesized CaF2 nanoparticles that vary in shape, size and surface structure. CaF2 nanoparticles are candidates for additives in dental care products as they could serve as fluorine-releasing containers preventing caries during a cariogenic acid attack on the teeth. We show that the adherence of the nanoparticles is increased on the enamel substrate compared to mica, independently of the substrate roughness, morphology and size of the particles.
AM-AFM in liquid; nanodentistry; nanoparticles
The solution self-assembly of multidentate organothiols onto Au(111) was studied in situ using scanning probe nanolithography and time-lapse atomic force microscopy (AFM). Self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) prepared from dilute solutions of multidentate thiols were found to assemble slowly, requiring more than six hours to generate films. A clean gold substrate was first imaged in ethanolic media using liquid AFM. Next, a 0.01 mM solution of multidentate thiol was injected into the liquid cell. As time progressed, molecular-level details of the surface changes at different time intervals were captured by successive AFM images. Scanning probe based nanofabrication was accomplished using protocols of nanografting and nanoshaving with n-alkanethiols and a tridentate molecule, 1,1,1-tris(mercaptomethyl)heptadecane (TMMH). Nanografted patterns of TMMH could be inscribed within n-alkanethiol SAMs; however, the molecular packing of the nanopatterns was less homogeneous compared to nanopatterns produced with monothiolates. The multidentate molecules have a more complex assembly pathway than monothiol counterparts, mediated by sequential steps of forming S–Au bonds to the substrate.
liquid AFM; multidentate; nanografting; nanolithography; self-assembly
The electronic and optical properties of semiconducting silicon nanotubes (SiNTs) are studied by means of the many-body Green’s function method, i.e., GW approximation and Bethe–Salpeter equation. In these studied structures, i.e., (4,4), (6,6) and (10,0) SiNTs, self-energy effects are enhanced giving rise to large quasi-particle (QP) band gaps due to the confinement effect. The strong electron−electron (e−e) correlations broaden the band gaps of the studied SiNTs from 0.65, 0.28 and 0.05 eV at DFT level to 1.9, 1.22 and 0.79 eV at GW level. The Coulomb electron−hole (e−h) interactions significantly modify optical absorption properties obtained at noninteracting-particle level with the formation of bound excitons with considerable binding energies (of the order of 1 eV) assigned: the binding energies of the armchair (4,4), (6,6) and zigzag (10,0) SiNTs are 0.92, 1.1 and 0.6 eV, respectively. Results in this work are useful for understanding the physics and applications in silicon-based nanoscale device components.
Bethe–Salpeter equation; excitons; GW approximation; many body effects; silicon
Noise performance of a phase-locked loop (PLL) based frequency modulation Kelvin force microscope (FM-KFM) is assessed. Noise propagation is modeled step by step throughout the setup using both exact closed loop noise gains and an approximation known as “noise gain” from operational amplifier (OpAmp) design that offers the advantage of decoupling the noise performance study from considerations of stability and ideal loop response. The bandwidth can be chosen depending on how much noise is acceptable and it is shown that stability is not an issue up to a limit that will be discussed. With thermal and detector noise as the only sources, both approaches yield PLL frequency noise expressions equal to the theoretical value for self-oscillating circuits and in agreement with measurement, demonstrating that the PLL components neither modify nor contribute noise. Kelvin output noise is then investigated by modeling the surrounding bias feedback loop. A design rule is proposed that allows choosing the AC modulation frequency for optimized sharing of the PLL bandwidth between Kelvin and topography loops. A crossover criterion determines as a function of bandwidth, temperature and probe parameters whether thermal or detector noise is the dominating noise source. Probe merit factors for both cases are then established, suggesting how to tackle noise performance by probe design. Typical merit factors of common probe types are compared. This comprehensive study is an encouraging step toward a more integral performance assessment and a remedy against focusing on single aspects and optimizing around randomly chosen key values.
dynamic; frequency noise; Kelvin force microscopy; noise performance; phase noise; thermal excitation
In this article, a new higher order shear deformation theory based on trigonometric shear deformation theory is developed. In order to consider the size effects, the nonlocal elasticity theory is used. An analytical method is adopted to solve the governing equations for static analysis of simply supported nanoplates. In the present theory, the transverse shear stresses satisfy the traction free boundary conditions of the rectangular plates and these stresses can be calculated from the constitutive equations. The effects of different parameters such as nonlocal parameter and aspect ratio are investigated on both nondimensional deflections and deflection ratios. It may be important to mention that the present formulations are general and can be used for isotropic, orthotropic and anisotropic nanoplates.
nonlocal elasticity theory; rectangular nanoplate; static analysis; trigonometric shear deformation theory