A carbon-encapsulated Fe3O4 nanocomposite was prepared by a simple one-step pyrolysis of iron pentacarbonyl without using any templates, solvents or surfactants. The structure and morphology of the nanocomposite was investigated by X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, Brunauer–Emmett–Teller analysis and Raman spectroscopy. Fe3O4 nanoparticles are dispersed intimately in a carbon framework. The nanocomposite exhibits well constructed core–shell and nanotube structures, with Fe3O4 cores and graphitic shells/tubes. The as-synthesized material could be used directly as anode in a lithium-ion cell and demonstrated a stable capacity, and good cyclic and rate performances.
electrochemistry; iron oxide; lithium-ion battery; nanoparticles; pyrolysis
A study of transmittance and photoluminescence spectra on the growth of oxygen-rich ultra-thin ZnO films prepared by atomic layer deposition is reported. The structural transition from an amorphous to a polycrystalline state is observed upon increasing the thickness. The unusual behavior of the energy gap with thickness reflected by optical properties is attributed to the improvement of the crystalline structure resulting from a decreasing concentration of point defects at the growth of grains. The spectra of UV and visible photoluminescence emissions correspond to transitions near the band-edge and defect-related transitions. Additional emissions were observed from band-tail states near the edge. A high oxygen ratio and variable optical properties could be attractive for an application of atomic layer deposition (ALD) deposited ultrathin ZnO films in optical sensors and biosensors.
atomic layer deposition; optical properties; photoluminescence; thin films; ZnO
The optimization of solution-processed organic bulk-heterojunction solar cells with the acceptor-substituted quinquethiophene DCV5T-Bu
4 as donor in conjunction with PC61BM as acceptor is described. Power conversion efficiencies up to 3.0% and external quantum efficiencies up to 40% were obtained through the use of 1-chloronaphthalene as solvent additive in the fabrication of the photovoltaic devices. Furthermore, atomic force microscopy investigations of the photoactive layer gave insight into the distribution of donor and acceptor within the blend. The unique combination of solubility and thermal stability of DCV5T-Bu
4 also allows for fabrication of organic solar cells by vacuum deposition. Thus, we were able to perform a rare comparison of the device characteristics of the solution-processed DCV5T-Bu
4:PC61BM solar cell with its vacuum-processed DCV5T-Bu
4:C60 counterpart. Interestingly in this case, the efficiencies of the small-molecule organic solar cells prepared by using solution techniques are approaching those fabricated by using vacuum technology. This result is significant as vacuum-processed devices typically display much better performances in photovoltaic cells.
active layer morphology; comparison vacuum-processed solar cells; maximum solubility; oligothiophene; solar cells; solution-processed bulk heterojunction; solvent additives
energy related; nanomaterials
The objective of this work was to develop new coating materials based on poly(ethyleneoxide) (PEO), which was grafted onto polysilazane (PSZ) by hydrosilylation. Three types of PEO with different molecular weights (350, 750, 2000 g/mol) were studied. The kinetics and yields of this reaction have been surveyed by 1H and 13C NMR spectroscopy. The PEO grafting-density onto PSZ by hydrosilylation increases with a reduction of the S–H/allyl ratio and a decrease of the PEO chain-length. The PEO-graft-PSZ (PSZ-PEO) hybrid coatings, which can be used to prevent the adhesion of marine bacteria on surfaces, were applied by moisture curing at room temperature. The anti-adhesion performance, and thus the anti-fouling activity, of the coatings against three marine bacteria species, Clostridium sp. SR1, Neisseria sp. LC1 and Neisseria sp. SC1, was examined. The anti-fouling activity of the coatings depends on the grafting density and the chain length of PEO. The shortest PEO(350 g/mol)-graft-PSZ with the highest graft density was found to have the best anti-fouling activity. As the density of grafted PEO(750 g/mol) and PEO(2000 g/mol) chains onto the PSZ surface is approximately equal, the relative effectiveness of these two types of PEO is controlled by the length of the PEO chain. The PEO(2000 g/mol)-graft-PSZ coatings are more efficient than the PEO(750 g/mol)-graft-PSZ coatings for the bacterial anti-adhesion.
antibacterial; hybrid materials; hydrosilylation; poly(ethyleneoxide); polysilazane
Aprotic rechargeable Li–O2 batteries are currently receiving considerable interest because they can possibly offer significantly higher energy densities than conventional Li-ion batteries. The electrochemical behavior of Li–O2 batteries containing bis(trifluoromethane)sulfonimide lithium salt (LiTFSI)/tetraglyme electrolyte were investigated by galvanostatic cycling and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy measurements. Ex-situ X-ray diffraction and scanning electron microscopy were used to evaluate the formation/dissolution of Li2O2 particles at the cathode side during the operation of Li–O2 cells.
aprotic electrolyte; impedance spectroscopy; Li–O2 batteries; scanning electron microscopy
Silicon as the negative electrode material of lithium ion batteries has a very large capacity, the exploitation of which is impeded by the volume changes taking place upon electrochemical cycling. A Si electrode displaying a controlled porosity could circumvent the difficulty. In this perspective, we present a preparative method that yields ordered arrays of electrochemically competent silicon nanotubes. The method is based on the atomic layer deposition of silicon dioxide onto the pore walls of an anodic alumina template, followed by a thermal reduction with lithium vapor. This thermal reduction is quantitative, homogeneous over macroscopic samples, and it yields amorphous silicon and lithium oxide, at the exclusion of any lithium silicides. The reaction is characterized by spectroscopic ellipsometry for thin silica films, and by nuclear magnetic resonance and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy for nanoporous samples. After removal of the lithium oxide byproduct, the silicon nanotubes can be contacted electrically. In a lithium ion electrolyte, they then display the electrochemical waves also observed for other bulk or nanostructured silicon systems. The method established here paves the way for systematic investigations of how the electrochemical properties (capacity, charge/discharge rates, cyclability) of nanoporous silicon negative lithium ion battery electrode materials depend on the geometry.
atomic layer deposition; electrochemistry; lithium ion battery electrode; silica thermal reduction; silicon nanotubes
We report here a way for improving the stability of ultramicroelectrodes (UME) based on hexacyanoferrate-modified metals for the detection of hydrogen peroxide. The most stable sensors were obtained by electrochemical deposition of six layers of hexacyanoferrates (HCF), more specifically, an alternating pattern of three layers of Prussian Blue and three layers of Ni–HCF. The microelectrodes modified with mixed layers were continuously monitored in 1 mM hydrogen peroxide and proved to be stable for more than 5 h under these conditions. The mixed layer microelectrodes exhibited a stability which is five times as high as the stability of conventional Prussian Blue-modified UMEs. The sensitivity of the mixed layer sensor was 0.32 A·M−1·cm−2, and the detection limit was 10 µM. The mixed layer-based UMEs were used as sensors in scanning electrochemical microscopy (SECM) experiments for imaging of hydrogen peroxide evolution.
energy related; hydrogen peroxide; nanomaterials; nickel hexacyanoferrate; Prussian Blue; scanning electrochemical microscopy; ultramicroelectrodes
Surface anchored metal-organic frameworks, SURMOFs, are highly porous materials, which can be grown on modified substrates as highly oriented, crystalline coatings by a quasi-epitaxial layer-by-layer method (liquid-phase epitaxy, or LPE). The chemical termination of the supporting substrate is crucial, because the most convenient method for substrate modification is the formation of a suitable self-assembled monolayer. The choice of a particular SAM also allows for control over the orientation of the SURMOF. Here, we demonstrate for the first time the site-selective growth of the SURMOF HKUST-1 on thiol-based self-assembled monolayers patterned by the nanografting technique, with an atomic force microscope as a structuring tool. Two different approaches were applied: The first one is based on 3-mercaptopropionic acid molecules which are grafted in a 1-decanethiolate SAM, which serves as a matrix for this nanolithography. The second approach uses 16-mercaptohexadecanoic acid, which is grafted in a matrix of an 1-octadecanethiolate SAM. In both cases a site-selective growth of the SURMOF is observed. In the latter case the roughness of the HKUST-1 is found to be significantly higher than for the 1-mercaptopropionic acid. The successful grafting process was verified by time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry and atomic force microscopy. The SURMOF structures grown via LPE were investigated and characterized by atomic force microscopy and Fourier-transform infrared microscopy.
atomic force microscopy (AFM); metal-organic frameworks; nanografting; nanoshaving; SURMOF
By utilizing the strongly induced plasmon coupling between discrete nano-antennas and quantitatively controlling the crystalline proportions of an underlying Ge2Sb2Te5 (GST) phase-change thin layer, we show that nanoscale light localizations in the immediate proximity of plasmonic nano-antennas can be spatially positioned. Isolated energy hot-spots at a subwavelength scale can be created and adjusted across the landscape of the plasmonic system at a step resolution of λ/20. These findings introduce a new approach for nano-circuitry, bio-assay addressing and imaging applications.
light localization; nano-antenna; near field; phase-change materials; plasmon coupling
Twisted few layer graphene (FLG) is highly attractive from an application point of view, due to its extraordinary electronic properties. In order to study its properties, we demonstrate and discuss three different routes to in situ create and identify (twisted) FLG. Single layer graphene (SLG) sheets mechanically exfoliated under ambient conditions on 6H-SiC(0001) are modified by (i) swift heavy ion (SHI) irradiation, (ii) by a force microscope tip and (iii) by severe heating. The resulting surface topography and the surface potential are investigated with non-contact atomic force microscopy (NC-AFM) and Kelvin probe force microscopy (KPFM). SHI irradiation results in rupture of the SLG sheets, thereby creating foldings and bilayer graphene (BLG). Applying the other modification methods creates enlarged (twisted) graphene foldings that show rupture along preferential edges of zigzag and armchair type. Peeling at a folding over an edge different from a low index crystallographic direction can result in twisted BLG, showing a similar height as Bernal (or AA-stacked) BLG in NC-AFM images. The rotational stacking can be identified by a significant contrast in the local contact potential difference (LCPD) measured by KPFM.
graphene; Kelvin probe force microscopy (KPFM), local contact potential difference (LCPD); non-contact atomic force microscopy (NC-AFM); SiC
In this work, material-sensitive atomic force microscopy (AFM) techniques were used to analyse the cathodes of lithium–sulfur batteries. A comparison of their nanoscale electrical, electrochemical, and morphological properties was performed with samples prepared by either suspension-spraying or doctor-blade coating with different binders. Morphological studies of the cathodes before and after the electrochemical tests were performed by using AFM and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The cathodes that contained polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) and were prepared by spray-coating exhibited a superior stability of the morphology and the electric network associated with the capacity and cycling stability of these batteries. A reduction of the conductive area determined by conductive AFM was found to correlate to the battery capacity loss for all cathodes. X-ray diffraction (XRD) measurements of Li2S exposed to ambient air showed that insulating Li2S hydrolyses to insulating LiOH. This validates the significance of electrical ex-situ AFM analysis after cycling. Conductive tapping mode AFM indicated the existence of large carbon-coated sulfur particles. Based on the analytical findings, the first results of an optimized cathode showed a much improved discharge capacity of 800 mA·g(sulfur)−1 after 43 cycles.
conductive AFM; high capacity; lithium-sulfur batteries; material-sensitive AFM; sulfur cathode
We investigate the radiation patterns of sharp conical gold tapers, which were designed as adiabatic nanofocusing probes for scanning near-field optical microscopy (SNOM). Field calculations show that only the lowest order eigenmode of such a taper can reach the very apex and thus induce the generation of strongly enhanced near-field signals. Higher-order modes are coupled into the far field at finite distances from the apex. Here, we demonstrate experimentally how to distinguish and separate between the lowest and higher-order eigenmodes of such a metallic taper by filtering in the spatial frequency domain. Our approach has the potential to considerably improve the signal-to-background ratio in spectroscopic experiments at the nanoscale.
adiabatic nanofocusing; Fourier optics; metallic wire modes; plasmonics; scanning near-field optical microscopy (SNOM)
Plasmonic resonances in metallic nano-triangles have been investigated by irradiating these structures with short laser pulses and imaging the resulting ablation and melting patterns. The triangular gold structures were prepared on Si substrates and had a thickness of 40 nm and a side length of ca. 500 nm. Irradiation was carried out with single femtosecond and picosecond laser pulses at a wavelength of 800 nm, which excited higher order plasmon modes in these triangles. The ablation distribution as well as the local melting of small parts of the nanostructures reflect the regions of large near-field enhancement. The observed patterns are reproduced in great detail by FDTD simulations with a 3-dimensional model, provided that the calculations are not based on idealized, but on realistic structures. In this realistic model, details like the exact shape of the triangle edges and the dielectric environment of the structures are taken into account. The experimental numbers found for the field enhancement are typically somewhat smaller than the calculated ones. The results demonstrate the caveats for FDTD simulations and the potential and the limitations of “near field photography” by local ablation and melting for the mapping of complex plasmon fields and their applications.
ablation; FDTD simulations; field enhancement; nanotriangles; near field; surface plasmons
Atomistic and first-principles molecular dynamics simulations are employed to investigate the structure formation in a hydrated Nafion membrane and the solvation and transport of protons in the water channel of the membrane. For the water/Nafion systems containing more than 4 million atoms, it is found that the observed microphase-segregated morphology can be classified as bicontinuous: both majority (hydrophobic) and minority (hydrophilic) subphases are 3D continuous and organized in an irregular ordered pattern, which is largely similar to that known for a bicontinuous double-diamond structure. The characteristic size of the connected hydrophilic channels is about 25–50 Å, depending on the water content. A thermodynamic decomposition of the potential of mean force and the calculated spectral densities of the hindered translational motions of cations reveal that ion association observed with decreasing temperature is largely an entropic effect related to the loss of low-frequency modes. Based on the results from the atomistic simulation of the morphology of Nafion, we developed a realistic model of ion-conducting hydrophilic channel within the Nafion membrane and studied it with quantum molecular dynamics. The extensive 120 ps-long density functional theory (DFT)-based simulations of charge migration in the 1200-atom model of the nanochannel consisting of Nafion chains and water molecules allowed us to observe the bimodality of the van Hove autocorrelation function, which provides the direct evidence of the Grotthuss bond-exchange (hopping) mechanism as a significant contributor to the proton conductivity.
atomistic simulation; morphology; Nafion membrane; proton transport; quantum molecular dynamics
The microstructure and mechanical properties of nanocrystalline Pd films prepared by magnetron sputtering have been investigated as a function of strain. The films were deposited onto polyimide substrates and tested in tensile mode. In order to follow the deformation processes in the material, several samples were strained to defined straining states, up to a maximum engineering strain of 10%, and prepared for post-mortem analysis. The nanocrystalline structure was investigated by quantitative automated crystal orientation mapping (ACOM) in a transmission electron microscope (TEM), identifying grain growth and twinning/detwinning resulting from dislocation activity as two of the mechanisms contributing to the macroscopic deformation. Depending on the initial twin density, the samples behaved differently. For low initial twin densities, an increasing twin density was found during straining. On the other hand, starting from a higher twin density, the twins were depleted with increasing strain. The findings from ACOM-TEM were confirmed by results from molecular dynamics (MD) simulations and from conventional and in-situ synchrotron X-ray diffraction (CXRD, SXRD) experiments.
ACOM-TEM; deformation mechanism; nanostructured metals; tensile testing; XRD
Plastic deformation and alloying of nanocrystalline Ni–Fe is studied by means of atomic scale computer simulations. By using a combination of Monte-Carlo and molecular dynamics methods we find that solutes have an ordering tendency even if grain sizes are in the nanometer regime, where the phase field of the ordered state is widened as compared to larger grain sizes. Tensile testing of disordered structures with various elemental distributions and the simultaneous analysis of intragranular defects reveal that solid solution strengthening is absent for the studied grain sizes. The composition and relaxation state of the grain boundary control the strength of the material, which is also found for ordered structures (L12), where dislocation activity is suppressed.
nanocrystalline materials; grain boundary structure; grain boundary segregation; plastic deformation; molecular dynamics
The resputtering of gold films from nano-holes defined in a sacrificial PMMA mask, which was made by electron beam lithography, was carried out with a dry plasma etching tool in order to form well-like structures with a high aspect ratio (height/width ≈ 3–4) at the rims of the nano-holes. The extraordinary transmission through the patterns of such nano-wells was investigated experimentally and numerically. By doing numerical simulations of 50-nm and 100-nm diameter polystyrene beads in water and air, we show the potential of such patterns for self-induced back-action (SIBA) trapping. The best trapping conditions were found to be a trapping force of 2 pN/W/μm2 (numerical result) exerted on a 50-nm diameter bead in water. The simulations were based on the analytical Lorentz force model.
extraordinary transmission; near field; optical tweezing; plasmonics; reactive ion etching; self-induced back-action
Nanoglasses are a new class of noncrystalline solids. They differ from today’s glasses due to their microstructure that resembles the microstructure of polycrystals. They consist of regions with a melt-quenched glassy structure connected by interfacial regions, the structure of which is characterized (in comparison to the corresponding melt-quenched glass) by (1) a reduced (up to about 10%) density, (2) a reduced (up to about 20%) number of nearest-neighbor atoms and (3) a different electronic structure. Due to their new kind of atomic and electronic structure, the properties of nanoglasses may be modified by (1) controlling the size of the glassy regions (i.e., the volume fraction of the interfacial regions) and/or (2) by varying their chemical composition. Nanoglasses exhibit new properties, e.g., a Fe90Sc10 nanoglass is (at 300 K) a strong ferromagnet whereas the corresponding melt-quenched glass is paramagnetic. Moreover, nanoglasses were noted to be more ductile, more biocompatible, and catalytically more active than the corresponding melt-quenched glasses. Hence, this new class of noncrystalline materials may open the way to technologies utilizing the new properties.
amorphous materials; ferromagnetism; nanoglasses; nanostructured materials; noncrystalline materials
Both fluorescence imaging and atomic force microscopy (AFM) are highly versatile and extensively used in applications ranging from nanotechnology to life sciences. In fluorescence microscopy luminescent dyes serve as position markers. Moreover, they can be used as active reporters of their local vicinity. The dipolar coupling of the tip with the incident light and the fluorophore give rise to a local field and fluorescence enhancement. AFM topographic imaging allows for resolutions down to the atomic scale. It can be operated in vacuum, under ambient conditions and in liquids. This makes it ideal for the investigation of a wide range of different samples. Furthermore an illuminated AFM cantilever tip apex exposes strongly confined non-propagating electromagnetic fields that can serve as a coupling agent for single dye molecules. Thus, combining both techniques by means of apertureless scanning near-field optical microscopy (aSNOM) enables concurrent high resolution topography and fluorescence imaging. Commonly, among the various (apertureless) SNOM approaches metallic or metallized probes are used. Here, we report on our custom-built aSNOM setup, which uses commercially available monolithic silicon AFM cantilevers. The field enhancement confined to the tip apex facilitates an optical resolution down to 20 nm. Furthermore, the use of standard mass-produced AFM cantilevers spares elaborate probe production or modification processes. We investigated tobacco mosaic viruses and the intermediate filament protein desmin. Both are mixed complexes of building blocks, which are fluorescently labeled to a low degree. The simultaneous recording of topography and fluorescence data allows for the exact localization of distinct building blocks within the superordinate structures.
apertureless scanning near-field optical microscope; atomic force microscopy; fluorescence microscopy
In this work we analyze the ablation dynamics of crystalline Si in the intense near field generated by a small dielectric particle located at the material surface when being irradiated with an infrared femtosecond laser pulse (800 nm, 120 fs). The presence of the particle (7.9 μm diameter) leads to a strong local enhancement (ca. 40 times) of the incoming intensity of the pulse. The transient optical response of the material has been analyzed by means of fs-resolved optical microscopy in reflection configuration over a time span from 0.1 ps to about 1 ns. Characteristic phenomena like electron plasma formation, ultrafast melting and ablation, along with their characteristic time scales are observed in the region surrounding the particle. The use of a time resolved imaging technique allows us recording simultaneously the material response at ordinary and large peak power densities enabling a direct comparison between both scenarios. The time resolved images of near field exposed regions are consistent with a remarkable temporal shift of the ablation onset which occurs in the sub-picosend regime, from about 500 to 800 fs after excitation.
crystalline Si; fs-resolved microscopy; laser ablation; near-field enhancement; ultrafast dynamics
The development of new types of light sources is necessary in order to meet the growing demands of consumers and to ensure an efficient use of energy. The cathodoluminescence process is still under-exploited for light generation because of the lack of cathodes suitable for the energy-efficient production of electron beams and appropriate phosphor materials. In this paper we propose a nano-graphite film material as a highly efficient cold cathode, which is able to produce high intensity electron beams without energy consumption. The nano-graphite film material was produced by using chemical vapor deposition techniques. Prototypes of cathodoluminescent lamp devices with a construction optimized for the usage of nano-graphite cold cathodes were developed, manufactured and tested. The results indicate prospective advantages of this type of lamp and the possibility to provide advanced power efficiency as well as enhanced spectral and other characteristics.
cathodoluminescence; electron field emission; light source; nano-graphite; vacuum electronics
Novel composite membranes for high temperature polymer-electrolyte fuel cells (HT-PEFC) based on a poly[oxy-3,3-bis(4′-benzimidazol-2″-ylphenyl)phtalide-5″(6″)-diyl] (PBI-O-PhT) polymer with small amounts of added Zr were prepared. It was shown in a model reaction between zirconium acetylacetonate (Zr(acac)4) and benzimidazole (BI) that Zr-atoms are capable to form chemical bonds with BI. Thus, Zr may be used as a crosslinking agent for PBI membranes. The obtained Zr/PBI-O-PhT composite membranes were examined by means of SAXS, thermomechanical analysis (TMA), and were tested in operating fuel cells by means of stationary voltammetry and impedance spectroscopy. The new membranes showed excellent stability in a 2000-hour fuel cell (FC) durability test. The modification of the PBI-O-PhT films with Zr facilitated an increase of the phosphoric acid (PA) uptake by the membranes, which resulted in an up to 2.5 times increased proton conductivity. The existence of an optimal amount of Zr content in the modified PBI-O-PhT film was shown. Larger amounts of Zr lead to a lower PA doping level and a reduced conductivity due to an excessively high degree of crosslinking.
composite; high temperature polymer-electrolyte fuel cells (HT-PEFC); impedance spectroscopy; polybenzimidazole (PBI); zirconium
We present the results of our study about the deposition rate of focused electron beam induced processing (FEBIP) as a function of the substrate temperature with the substrate being an electron-transparent amorphous carbon membrane. When W(CO)6 is used as a precursor it is observed that the growth rate is lower at higher substrate temperatures. From Arrhenius plots we calculated the activation energy for desorption, E
des, of W(CO)6. We found an average value for E
des of 20.3 kJ or 0.21 eV, which is 2.5–3.0 times lower than literature values. This difference between estimates for E
des from FEBIP experiments compared to literature values is consistent with earlier findings by other authors. The discrepancy is attributed to electron-stimulated desorption, which is known to occur during electron irradiation. The data suggest that, of the W(CO)6 molecules that are affected by the electron irradiation, the majority desorbs from the surface rather than dissociates to contribute to the deposit. It is important to take this into account during FEBIP experiments, for instance when determining fundamental process parameters such as the activation energy for desorption.
desorption energy; focused electron beam induced processing; scanning transmission electron microscopy; temperature dependence; tungsten hexacarbonyl
Metal–insulator–metal (MIM) structures based on titanium dioxide have demonstrated reversible and non-volatile resistance-switching behavior and have been identified with the concept of the memristor. Microphysical studies suggest that the development of sub-oxide phases in the material drives the resistance changes. The creation of these phases, however, has a number of negative effects such as requiring an elevated voltage, increasing the device-to-device variability, damaging the electrodes due to oxygen evolution, and ultimately limiting the device lifetime. In this work we show that the deliberate inclusion of a sub-oxide layer in the MIM structure maintains the favorable switching properties of the device, while eliminating many of the negative effects. Electrical and microphysical characterization of the resulting structures was performed, utilizing X-ray and electron spectroscopy and microscopy. In contrast to structures which are not engineered with a sub-oxide layer, we observed dramatically reduced microphysical changes after electrical operation.
electron microscopy; memristor; resistance switching; transition-metal oxide; X-ray spectroscopy