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1.  Influence of size, shape and core–shell interface on surface plasmon resonance in Ag and Ag@MgO nanoparticle films deposited on Si/SiOx  
Ag and Ag@MgO core–shell nanoparticles (NPs) with a diameter of d = 3–10 nm were obtained by physical synthesis methods and deposited on Si with its native ultrathin oxide layer SiOx (Si/SiOx). Scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) images of bare Ag NPs revealed the presence of small NP aggregates caused by diffusion on the surface and agglomeration. Atomic resolution TEM gave evidence of the presence of crystalline multidomains in the NPs, which were due to aggregation and multitwinning occurring during NP growth in the nanocluster source. Co-deposition of Ag NPs and Mg atoms in an oxygen atmosphere gave rise to formation of a MgO shell matrix surrounding the Ag NPs. The behaviour of the surface plasmon resonance (SPR) excitation in surface differential reflectivity (SDR) spectra with p-polarised light was investigated for bare Ag and Ag@MgO NPs. It was shown that the presence of MgO around the Ag NPs caused a red shift of the plasmon excitation, and served to preserve its existence after prolonged (five months) exposure to air, realizing the possibility of technological applications in plasmonic devices. The Ag NP and Ag@MgO NP film features in the SDR spectra could be reproduced by classical electrodynamics simulations by treating the NP-containing layer as an effective Maxwell Garnett medium. The simulations gave results in agreement with the experiments when accounting for the experimentally observed aggregation.
PMCID: PMC4362337  PMID: 25821680
Ag; core–shell nanoparticles; electron microscopy; MgO; surface differential reflectivity; surface plasmon resonance
2.  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

Results 1-2 (2)