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1.  Design criteria for stable Pt/C fuel cell catalysts 
Summary
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.
doi:10.3762/bjnano.5.5
PMCID: PMC3943646  PMID: 24605273
catalyst design criteria; degradation mechanisms; fuel cell catalyst; nanoparticles; stability
2.  Challenges in realizing ultraflat materials surfaces 
Summary
Ultraflat surface substrates are required to achieve an optimal performance of future optical, electronic, or optoelectronic devices for various applications, because such surfaces reduce the scattering loss of photons, electrons, or both at the surfaces and interfaces. In this paper, we review recent progress toward the realization of ultraflat materials surfaces. First, we review the development of surface-flattening techniques. Second, we briefly review the dressed photon–phonon (DPP), a nanometric quasiparticle that describes the coupled state of a photon, an electron, and a multimode-coherent phonon. Then, we review several recent developments based on DPP-photochemical etching and desorption processes, which have resulted in angstrom-scale flat surfaces. To confirm that the superior flatness of these surfaces that originated from the DPP process, we also review a simplified mathematical model that describes the scale-dependent effects of optical near-fields. Finally, we present the future outlook for these technologies.
doi:10.3762/bjnano.4.99
PMCID: PMC3869220  PMID: 24367757
dressed photon–phonon; phonon-assisted process; polishing; self-organized process
3.  Dynamic nanoindentation by instrumented nanoindentation and force microscopy: a comparative review 
Summary
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.
doi:10.3762/bjnano.4.93
PMCID: PMC3869246  PMID: 24367751
atomic force microscopy; loss modulus; nanoindentation; storage modulus; viscoelasticity
4.  Nanoglasses: a new kind of noncrystalline materials 
Summary
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.
doi:10.3762/bjnano.4.61
PMCID: PMC3778333  PMID: 24062978
amorphous materials; ferromagnetism; nanoglasses; nanostructured materials; noncrystalline materials
5.  Functionalization of vertically aligned carbon nanotubes 
Summary
This review focuses and summarizes recent studies on the functionalization of carbon nanotubes oriented perpendicularly to their substrate, so-called vertically aligned carbon nanotubes (VA-CNTs). The intrinsic properties of individual nanotubes make the VA-CNTs ideal candidates for integration in a wide range of devices, and many potential applications have been envisaged. These applications can benefit from the unidirectional alignment of the nanotubes, the large surface area, the high carbon purity, the outstanding electrical conductivity, and the uniformly long length. However, practical uses of VA-CNTs are limited by their surface characteristics, which must be often modified in order to meet the specificity of each particular application. The proposed approaches are based on the chemical modifications of the surface by functionalization (grafting of functional chemical groups, decoration with metal particles or wrapping of polymers) to bring new properties or to improve the interactions between the VA-CNTs and their environment while maintaining the alignment of CNTs.
doi:10.3762/bjnano.4.14
PMCID: PMC3596098  PMID: 23504581
aligned; carbon nanotubes; fluorination; functionalization; graphene; nitration; oxidation
6.  Nanostructure-directed chemical sensing: The IHSAB principle and the dynamics of acid/base-interface interaction 
Summary
Nanostructure-decorated n-type semiconductor interfaces are studied in order to develop chemical sensing with nanostructured materials. We couple the tenets of acid/base chemistry with the majority charge carriers of an extrinsic semiconductor. Nanostructured islands are deposited in a process that does not require self-assembly in order to direct a dominant electron-transduction process that forms the basis for reversible chemical sensing in the absence of chemical-bond formation. Gaseous analyte interactions on a metal-oxide-decorated n-type porous silicon interface show a dynamic electron transduction to and from the interface depending upon the relative strength of the gas and metal oxides. The dynamic interaction of NO with TiO2, SnO2, NiO, CuxO, and AuxO (x >> 1), in order of decreasing acidity, demonstrates this effect. Interactions with the metal-oxide-decorated interface can be modified by the in situ nitridation of the oxide nanoparticles, enhancing the basicity of the decorated interface. This process changes the interaction of the interface with the analyte. The observed change to the more basic oxinitrides does not represent a simple increase in surface basicity but appears to involve a change in molecular electronic structure, which is well explained by using the recently developed IHSAB model. The optical pumping of a TiO2 and TiO2− xNx decorated interface demonstrates a significant enhancement in the ability to sense NH3 and NO2. Comparisons to traditional metal-oxide sensors are also discussed.
doi:10.3762/bjnano.4.3
PMCID: PMC3566853  PMID: 23400337
chemical sensors; gas interface interactions; IHSAB theory; nitrated oxides; porous silicon
7.  Characterization and properties of micro- and nanowires of controlled size, composition, and geometry fabricated by electrodeposition and ion-track technology 
Summary
The combination of electrodeposition and polymeric templates created by heavy-ion irradiation followed by chemical track etching provides a large variety of poly- and single-crystalline nanowires of controlled size, geometry, composition, and surface morphology. Recent results obtained by our group on the fabrication, characterization and size-dependent properties of nanowires synthesized by this technique are reviewed, including investigations on electrical resistivity, surface plasmon resonances, and thermal instability.
doi:10.3762/bjnano.3.97
PMCID: PMC3556775  PMID: 23365800
electrodeposition; etched ion-track membrane; finite-size effects; heavy ion irradiation; nanowire; radiation-induced nanostructures
8.  Focused electron beam induced deposition: A perspective 
Summary
Background: Focused electron beam induced deposition (FEBID) is a direct-writing technique with nanometer resolution, which has received strongly increasing attention within the last decade. In FEBID a precursor previously adsorbed on a substrate surface is dissociated in the focus of an electron beam. After 20 years of continuous development FEBID has reached a stage at which this technique is now particularly attractive for several areas in both, basic and applied research. The present topical review addresses selected examples that highlight this development in the areas of charge-transport regimes in nanogranular metals close to an insulator-to-metal transition, the use of these materials for strain- and magnetic-field sensing, and the prospect of extending FEBID to multicomponent systems, such as binary alloys and intermetallic compounds with cooperative ground states.
Results: After a brief introduction to the technique, recent work concerning FEBID of Pt–Si alloys and (hard-magnetic) Co–Pt intermetallic compounds on the nanometer scale is reviewed. The growth process in the presence of two precursors, whose flux is independently controlled, is analyzed within a continuum model of FEBID that employs rate equations. Predictions are made for the tunability of the composition of the Co–Pt system by simply changing the dwell time of the electron beam during the writing process. The charge-transport regimes of nanogranular metals are reviewed next with a focus on recent theoretical advancements in the field. As a case study the transport properties of Pt–C nanogranular FEBID structures are discussed. It is shown that by means of a post-growth electron-irradiation treatment the electronic intergrain-coupling strength can be continuously tuned over a wide range. This provides unique access to the transport properties of this material close to the insulator-to-metal transition. In the last part of the review, recent developments in mechanical strain-sensing and the detection of small, inhomogeneous magnetic fields by employing nanogranular FEBID structures are highlighted.
Conclusion: FEBID has now reached a state of maturity that allows a shift of the focus towards the development of new application fields, be it in basic research or applied. This is shown for selected examples in the present review. At the same time, when seen from a broader perspective, FEBID still has to live up to the original idea of providing a tool for electron-controlled chemistry on the nanometer scale. This has to be understood in the sense that, by providing a suitable environment during the FEBID process, the outcome of the electron-induced reactions can be steered in a controlled way towards yielding the desired composition of the products. The development of a FEBID-specialized surface chemistry is mostly still in its infancy. Next to application development, it is this aspect that will likely be a guiding light for the future development of the field of focused electron beam induced deposition.
doi:10.3762/bjnano.3.70
PMCID: PMC3458607  PMID: 23019557
atomic force microscopy; binary systems; electron beam induced deposition; granular metals; micro Hall magnetometry; radiation-induced nanostructures; strain sensing
9.  Surface functionalization of aluminosilicate nanotubes with organic molecules 
Summary
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.
doi:10.3762/bjnano.3.10
PMCID: PMC3304320  PMID: 22428100
chemisorption; imogolite; inorganic nanotube; surface functionalization.
10.  Self-assembled monolayers and titanium dioxide: From surface patterning to potential applications 
Summary
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.
doi:10.3762/bjnano.2.94
PMCID: PMC3257511  PMID: 22259769
photocatalysis; remote degradation; self-assembled monolayers; titanium dioxide
11.  Synthesis and catalytic applications of combined zeolitic/mesoporous materials 
Summary
In the last decade, research concerning nanoporous siliceous materials has been focused on mesoporous materials with intrinsic zeolitic features. These materials are thought to be superior, because they are able to combine (i) the enhanced diffusion and accessibility for larger molecules and viscous fluids typical of mesoporous materials with (ii) the remarkable stability, catalytic activity and selectivity of zeolites. This review gives an overview of the state of the art concerning combined zeolitic/mesoporous materials. Focus is put on the synthesis and the applications of the combined zeolitic/mesoporous materials. The different synthesis approaches and formation mechanisms leading to these materials are comprehensively discussed and compared. Moreover, Ti-containing nanoporous materials as redox catalysts are discussed to illustrate a potential implementation of combined zeolitic/mesoporous materials.
doi:10.3762/bjnano.2.87
PMCID: PMC3257504  PMID: 22259762
catalysis; characterization; combined zeolitic/mesoporous materials; synthesis
12.  Self-organizing bioinspired oligothiophene–oligopeptide hybrids 
Summary
In this minireview, we survey recent advances in the synthesis, characterization, and modeling of new oligothiophene–oligopeptide hybrids capable of forming nanostructured fibrillar aggregates in solution and on solid substrates. Compounds of this class are promising for applications because their self-assembly and stimuli-responsive properties, provided by the peptide moieties combined with the semiconducting properties of the thiophene blocks, can result in novel opportunities for the design of advanced smart materials. These bio-inspired molecular hybrids are experimentally shown to form stable fibrils as visualized by AFM and TEM. While the experimental evidence alone is not sufficient to reveal the exact molecular organization of the fibrils, theoretical approaches based on quantum chemistry calculations and large-scale atomistic molecular dynamics simulations are attempted in an effort to reveal the structure of the fibrils at the nanoscale. Based on the combined theoretical and experimental analysis, the most likely models of fibril formation and aggregation are suggested.
doi:10.3762/bjnano.2.57
PMCID: PMC3190623  PMID: 22003459
amyloid-like fibrils; bioinspired conjugates; molecular dynamics simulations; oligopeptides; oligothiophenes; self-assembly
13.  Extended X-ray absorption fine structure of bimetallic nanoparticles 
Summary
Electronic and magnetic properties strongly depend on the structure of the material, especially on the crystal symmetry and chemical environment. In nanoparticles, the break of symmetry at the surface may yield different physical properties with respect to the corresponding bulk material. A useful tool to investigate the electronic structure, magnetic behaviour and local crystallographic structure is X-ray absorption spectroscopy. In this review, recent developments in the field of extended X-ray absorption fine structure measurements and in the analysis methods for structural investigations of bimetallic nanoparticles are highlighted. The standard analysis based on Fourier transforms is compared to the relatively new field of wavelet transforms that have the potential to outperform traditional analysis, especially in bimetallic alloys. As an example, the lattice expansion and inhomogeneous alloying found in FePt nanoparticles is presented, and this is discussed below in terms of the influence of employed density functional theory calculations on the magnetic properties.
doi:10.3762/bjnano.2.28
PMCID: PMC3148049  PMID: 21977436
bimetallic alloys; EXAFS; FePt; nanoparticles; wavelets; XAS
14.  Biomimetics inspired surfaces for drag reduction and oleophobicity/philicity 
Summary
The emerging field of biomimetics allows one to mimic biology or nature to develop nanomaterials, nanodevices, and processes which provide desirable properties. Hierarchical structures with dimensions of features ranging from the macroscale to the nanoscale are extremely common in nature and possess properties of interest. There are a large number of objects including bacteria, plants, land and aquatic animals, and seashells with properties of commercial interest. Certain plant leaves, such as lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) leaves, are known to be superhydrophobic and self-cleaning due to the hierarchical surface roughness and presence of a wax layer. In addition to a self-cleaning effect, these surfaces with a high contact angle and low contact angle hysteresis also exhibit low adhesion and drag reduction for fluid flow. An aquatic animal, such as a shark, is another model from nature for the reduction of drag in fluid flow. The artificial surfaces inspired from the shark skin and lotus leaf have been created, and in this article the influence of structure on drag reduction efficiency is reviewed. Biomimetic-inspired oleophobic surfaces can be used to prevent contamination of the underwater parts of ships by biological and organic contaminants, including oil. The article also reviews the wetting behavior of oil droplets on various superoleophobic surfaces created in the lab.
doi:10.3762/bjnano.2.9
PMCID: PMC3148050  PMID: 21977417
aquatic animals; biomimetics; drag; lotus plants; shark skin; superhydrophobicity; superoleophobicity
15.  Defects in oxide surfaces studied by atomic force and scanning tunneling microscopy 
Summary
Surfaces of thin oxide films were investigated by means of a dual mode NC-AFM/STM. Apart from imaging the surface termination by NC-AFM with atomic resolution, point defects in magnesium oxide on Ag(001) and line defects in aluminum oxide on NiAl(110), respectively, were thoroughly studied. The contact potential was determined by Kelvin probe force microscopy (KPFM) and the electronic structure by scanning tunneling spectroscopy (STS). On magnesium oxide, different color centers, i.e., F0, F+, F2+ and divacancies, have different effects on the contact potential. These differences enabled classification and unambiguous differentiation by KPFM. True atomic resolution shows the topography at line defects in aluminum oxide. At these domain boundaries, STS and KPFM verify F2+-like centers, which have been predicted by density functional theory calculations. Thus, by determining the contact potential and the electronic structure with a spatial resolution in the nanometer range, NC-AFM and STM can be successfully applied on thin oxide films beyond imaging the topography of the surface atoms.
doi:10.3762/bjnano.2.1
PMCID: PMC3045939  PMID: 21977410
aluminum oxide; charge state; contact potential; defects; domain boundaries; dynamic force microscopy; frequency modulation atomic force microscopy; Kelvin probe force microscopy; magnesium oxide; non-contact atomic force microscopy; scanning tunneling microscopy; thin films; work function
16.  Magnetic interactions between nanoparticles 
Summary
We present a short overview of the influence of inter-particle interactions on the properties of magnetic nanoparticles. Strong magnetic dipole interactions between ferromagnetic or ferrimagnetic particles, that would be superparamagnetic if isolated, can result in a collective state of nanoparticles. This collective state has many similarities to spin-glasses. In samples of aggregated magnetic nanoparticles, exchange interactions are often important and this can also lead to a strong suppression of superparamagnetic relaxation. The temperature dependence of the order parameter in samples of strongly interacting hematite nanoparticles or goethite grains is well described by a simple mean field model. Exchange interactions between nanoparticles with different orientations of the easy axes can also result in a rotation of the sub-lattice magnetization directions.
doi:10.3762/bjnano.1.22
PMCID: PMC3045912  PMID: 21977409
dipole interactions; exchange interactions; spin structure; superferromagnetism; superparamagnetic relaxation
17.  Magnetic nanoparticles for biomedical NMR-based diagnostics 
Summary
Rapid and accurate measurements of protein biomarkers, pathogens and cells in biological samples could provide useful information for early disease diagnosis, treatment monitoring, and design of personalized medicine. In general, biological samples have only negligible magnetic susceptibility. Thus, using magnetic nanoparticles for biosensing not only enhances sensitivity but also effectively reduces sample preparation needs. This review focuses on the use of magnetic nanoparticles for in vitro detection of biomolecules and cells based on magnetic resonance effects. This detection platform, termed diagnostic magnetic resonance (DMR), exploits magnetic nanoparticles as proximity sensors, which modulate the spin–spin relaxation time of water molecules surrounding molecularly-targeted nanoparticles. By developing more effective magnetic nanoparticle biosensors, DMR detection limits for various target moieties have been considerably improved over the last few years. Already, a library of magnetic nanoparticles has been developed, in which a wide range of targets, including DNA/mRNA, proteins, small molecules/drugs, bacteria, and tumor cells, have been quantified. More recently, the capabilities of DMR technology have been further advanced with new developments such as miniaturized nuclear magnetic resonance detectors, better magnetic nanoparticles and novel conjugational methods. These developments have enabled parallel and sensitive measurements to be made from small volume samples. Thus, the DMR technology is a highly attractive platform for portable, low-cost, and efficient biomolecular detection within a biomedical setting.
doi:10.3762/bjnano.1.17
PMCID: PMC3045933  PMID: 21977404
biosensor; diagnostics; magnetic nanoparticle; microfluidics; nuclear magnetic resonance
18.  Uniform excitations in magnetic nanoparticles 
Summary
We present a short review of the magnetic excitations in nanoparticles below the superparamagnetic blocking temperature. In this temperature regime, the magnetic dynamics in nanoparticles is dominated by uniform excitations, and this leads to a linear temperature dependence of the magnetization and the magnetic hyperfine field, in contrast to the Bloch T 3/2 law in bulk materials. The temperature dependence of the average magnetization is conveniently studied by Mössbauer spectroscopy. The energy of the uniform excitations of magnetic nanoparticles can be studied by inelastic neutron scattering.
doi:10.3762/bjnano.1.6
PMCID: PMC3045916  PMID: 21977393
collective magnetic excitations; Mössbauer spectroscopy; neutron scattering; spin waves; superparamagnetic relaxation
19.  Review and outlook: from single nanoparticles to self-assembled monolayers and granular GMR sensors 
Summary
This paper highlights recent advances in synthesis, self-assembly and sensing applications of monodisperse magnetic Co and Co-alloyed nanoparticles. A brief introduction to solution phase synthesis techniques as well as the magnetic properties and aspects of the self-assembly process of nanoparticles will be given with the emphasis placed on selected applications, before recent developments of particles in sensor devices are outlined. Here, the paper focuses on the fabrication of granular magnetoresistive sensors by the employment of particles themselves as sensing layers. The role of interparticle interactions is discussed.
doi:10.3762/bjnano.1.10
PMCID: PMC3045928  PMID: 21977397
bottom-up particle synthesis; dipolar particle coupling; granular giant magnetoresistance sensor; magnetic nanoparticles; self-assembly

Results 1-19 (19)