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1.  Study of mesoporous CdS-quantum-dot-sensitized TiO2 films by using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and AFM 
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.
PMCID: PMC3943686  PMID: 24605274
AFM; CdS; heterojunction; particle size; quantum dots; TiO2; XPS
2.  Surface assembly and nanofabrication of 1,1,1-tris(mercaptomethyl)heptadecane on Au(111) studied with time-lapse atomic force microscopy 
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.
PMCID: PMC3896263  PMID: 24455459
liquid AFM; multidentate; nanografting; nanolithography; self-assembly
3.  STM tip-assisted engineering of molecular nanostructures: PTCDA islands on Ge(001):H surfaces 
Islands composed of perylene-3,4,9,10-tetracarboxylic dianhydride (PTCDA) molecules are grown on a hydrogen passivated Ge(001):H surface. The islands are studied with room temperature scanning tunneling microscopy and spectroscopy. The spontaneous and tip-induced formation of the top-most layer of the island is presented. Assistance of the scanning probe seems to be one of the factors that facilitate and speed the process of formation of the top-most layer.
PMCID: PMC3869338  PMID: 24367762
molecular nanostructures; scanning tunneling microscopy; tip-induced processes
4.  Peak forces and lateral resolution in amplitude modulation force microscopy in liquid 
The peak forces exerted on soft and rigid samples by a force microscope have been modeled by performing numerical simulations of the tip motion in liquid. The forces are obtained by using two contact mechanics models, Hertz and Tatara. We present a comparison between the numerical simulations and three analytical models for a wide variety of probe and operational parameters. In general, the forces derived from analytical expressions are not in good quantitative agreement with the simulations when the Young modulus and the set-point amplitude are varied. The only exception is the parametrized approximation that matches the results given by Hertz contact mechanics for soft materials and small free amplitudes. We also study the elastic deformation of the sample as a function of the imaging conditions for materials with a Young modulus between 25 MPa and 2 GPa. High lateral resolution images are predicted by using both small free amplitudes (less than 2 nm for soft materials) and high set-point amplitudes.
PMCID: PMC3869265  PMID: 24367754
force microscopy; lateral resolution; nanomechanics; peak force
5.  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
6.  Atomic force microscopy recognition of protein A on Staphylococcus aureus cell surfaces by labelling with IgG–Au conjugates 
The labelling of functional molecules on the surface of bacterial cells is one way to recognize the bacteria. In this work, we have developed a method for the selective labelling of protein A on the cell surfaces of Staphylococcus aureus by using nanosized immunogold conjugates as cell-surface markers for atomic force microscopy (AFM). The use of 30-nm size Au nanoparticles conjugated with immunoglobulin G (IgG) allowed the visualization, localization and distribution of protein A–IgG complexes on the surface of S. aureus. The selectivity of the labelling method was confirmed in mixtures of S. aureus with Bacillus licheniformis cells, which differed by size and shape and had no IgG receptors on the surface. A preferential binding of the IgG–Au conjugates to S. aureus was obtained. Thus, this novel approach allows the identification of protein A and other IgG receptor-bearing bacteria, which is useful for AFM indication of pathogenic microorganisms in poly-component associations.
PMCID: PMC3869370  PMID: 24367742
atomic force microscopy; IgG–gold nanoparticle conjugates; protein A; Staphylococcus aureus
7.  Site-selective growth of surface-anchored metal-organic frameworks on self-assembled monolayer patterns prepared by AFM nanografting 
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.
PMCID: PMC3817682  PMID: 24205458
atomic force microscopy (AFM); metal-organic frameworks; nanografting; nanoshaving; SURMOF
8.  AFM as an analysis tool for high-capacity sulfur cathodes for Li–S batteries 
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.
PMCID: PMC3817686  PMID: 24205455
conductive AFM; high capacity; lithium-sulfur batteries; material-sensitive AFM; sulfur cathode
9.  Kelvin probe force microscopy of nanocrystalline TiO2 photoelectrodes 
Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs) provide a promising third-generation photovoltaic concept based on the spectral sensitization of a wide-bandgap metal oxide. Although the nanocrystalline TiO2 photoelectrode of a DSC consists of sintered nanoparticles, there are few studies on the nanoscale properties. We focus on the microscopic work function and surface photovoltage (SPV) determination of TiO2 photoelectrodes using Kelvin probe force microscopy in combination with a tunable illumination system. A comparison of the surface potentials for TiO2 photoelectrodes sensitized with two different dyes, i.e., the standard dye N719 and a copper(I) bis(imine) complex, reveals an inverse orientation of the surface dipole. A higher surface potential was determined for an N719 photoelectrode. The surface potential increase due to the surface dipole correlates with a higher DSC performance. Concluding from this, microscopic surface potential variations, attributed to the complex nanostructure of the photoelectrode, influence the DSC performance. For both bare and sensitized TiO2 photoelectrodes, the measurements reveal microscopic inhomogeneities of more than 100 mV in the work function and show recombination time differences at different locations. The bandgap of 3.2 eV, determined by SPV spectroscopy, remained constant throughout the TiO2 layer. The effect of the built-in potential on the DSC performance at the TiO2/SnO2:F interface, investigated on a nanometer scale by KPFM measurements under visible light illumination, has not been resolved so far.
PMCID: PMC3701424  PMID: 23844348
atomic force microscopy (AFM); dye-sensitized solar cells (DSC); Kelvin probe force microscopy (KPFM); surface photovoltage (SPV); titanium dioxide (TiO2)
10.  High-resolution nanomechanical analysis of suspended electrospun silk fibers with the torsional harmonic atomic force microscope 
Atomic force microscopes have become indispensable tools for mechanical characterization of nanoscale and submicron structures. However, materials with complex geometries, such as electrospun fiber networks used for tissue scaffolds, still pose challenges due to the influence of tension and bending modulus on the response of the suspended structures. Here we report mechanical measurements on electrospun silk fibers with various treatments that allow discriminating among the different mechanisms that determine the mechanical behavior of these complex structures. In particular we were able to identify the role of tension and boundary conditions (pinned versus clamped) in determining the mechanical response of electrospun silk fibers. Our findings show that high-resolution mechanical imaging with torsional harmonic atomic force microscopy provides a reliable method to investigate the mechanics of materials with complex geometries.
PMCID: PMC3628847  PMID: 23616944
atomic force microscopy; nanomechanical characterization; silk fibers; tissue scaffolds; torsional harmonic cantilevers
11.  Selective surface modification of lithographic silicon oxide nanostructures by organofunctional silanes 
This study investigates the controlled chemical functionalization of silicon oxide nanostructures prepared by AFM-anodization lithography of alkyl-terminated silicon. Different conditions for the growth of covalently bound mono-, multi- or submonolayers of distinctively functional silane molecules on nanostructures have been identified by AFM-height investigations. Routes for the preparation of methyl- or amino-terminated structures or silicon surfaces are presented and discussed. The formation of silane monolayers on nanoscopic silicon oxide nanostructures was found to be much more sensitive towards ambient humidity than, e.g., the silanization of larger OH-terminated silica surfaces. Amino-functionalized nanostructures have been successfully modified by the covalent binding of functional fluorescein dye molecules. Upon excitation, the dye-functionalized structures show only weak fluorescence, which may be an indication of a relatively low surface coverage of the dye molecules on length scale that is not accessible by standard AFM measurements.
PMCID: PMC3628979  PMID: 23616941
AFM lithography; amino-functionalization; local anodic oxidation; octadecyl-trichlorosilane; silicon oxide nanostructures
12.  Bimodal atomic force microscopy driving the higher eigenmode in frequency-modulation mode: Implementation, advantages, disadvantages and comparison to the open-loop case 
We present an overview of the bimodal amplitude–frequency-modulation (AM-FM) imaging mode of atomic force microscopy (AFM), whereby the fundamental eigenmode is driven by using the amplitude-modulation technique (AM-AFM) while a higher eigenmode is driven by using either the constant-excitation or the constant-amplitude variant of the frequency-modulation (FM-AFM) technique. We also offer a comparison to the original bimodal AFM method, in which the higher eigenmode is driven with constant frequency and constant excitation amplitude. General as well as particular characteristics of the different driving schemes are highlighted from theoretical and experimental points of view, revealing the advantages and disadvantages of each. This study provides information and guidelines that can be useful in selecting the most appropriate operation mode to characterize different samples in the most efficient and reliable way.
PMCID: PMC3628543  PMID: 23616939
amplitude-modulation; atomic force microscopy; frequency-modulation; phase-locked loop; spectroscopy
13.  Towards 4-dimensional atomic force spectroscopy using the spectral inversion method 
We introduce a novel and potentially powerful, yet relatively simple extension of the spectral inversion method, which offers the possibility of carrying out 4-dimensional (4D) atomic force spectroscopy. With the extended spectral inversion method it is theoretically possible to measure the tip–sample forces as a function of the three Cartesian coordinates in the scanning volume (x, y and z) and the vertical velocity of the tip, through a single 2-dimensional (2D) surface scan. Although signal-to-noise ratio limitations can currently prevent the accurate experimental implementation of the 4D method, and the extraction of rate-dependent material properties from the force maps is a formidable challenge, the spectral inversion method is a promising approach due to its dynamic nature, robustness, relative simplicity and previous successes.
PMCID: PMC3596110  PMID: 23503061
atomic force microscopy; spectral inversion; spectroscopy; torsional harmonic cantilever; viscoelasticity
14.  Interpreting motion and force for narrow-band intermodulation atomic force microscopy 
Intermodulation atomic force microscopy (ImAFM) is a mode of dynamic atomic force microscopy that probes the nonlinear tip–surface force by measurement of the mixing of multiple modes in a frequency comb. A high-quality factor cantilever resonance and a suitable drive comb will result in tip motion described by a narrow-band frequency comb. We show, by a separation of time scales, that such motion is equivalent to rapid oscillations at the cantilever resonance with a slow amplitude and phase or frequency modulation. With this time-domain perspective, we analyze single oscillation cycles in ImAFM to extract the Fourier components of the tip–surface force that are in-phase with the tip motion (F I) and quadrature to the motion (F Q). Traditionally, these force components have been considered as a function of the static-probe height only. Here we show that F I and F Q actually depend on both static-probe height and oscillation amplitude. We demonstrate on simulated data how to reconstruct the amplitude dependence of F I and F Q from a single ImAFM measurement. Furthermore, we introduce ImAFM approach measurements with which we reconstruct the full amplitude and probe-height dependence of the force components F I and F Q, providing deeper insight into the tip–surface interaction. We demonstrate the capabilities of ImAFM approach measurements on a polystyrene polymer surface.
PMCID: PMC3566785  PMID: 23400552
atomic force microscopy; AFM; frequency combs; force spectroscopy; high-quality-factor resonators; intermodulation; multifrequency
15.  Advanced atomic force microscopy techniques 
PMCID: PMC3554267  PMID: 23365802
atomic force microscopy
16.  Reversible mechano-electrochemical writing of metallic nanostructures with the tip of an atomic force microscope 
We recently introduced a method that allows the controlled deposition of nanoscale metallic patterns at defined locations using the tip of an atomic force microscope (AFM) as a “mechano-electrochemical pen”, locally activating a passivated substrate surface for site-selective electrochemical deposition. Here, we demonstrate the reversibility of this process and study the long-term stability of the resulting metallic structures. The remarkable stability for more than 1.5 years under ambient air without any observable changes can be attributed to self-passivation. After AFM-activated electrochemical deposition of copper nanostructures on a polycrystalline gold film and subsequent AFM imaging, the copper nanostructures could be dissolved by reversing the electrochemical potential. Subsequent AFM-tip-activated deposition of different copper nanostructures at the same location where the previous structures were deleted, shows that there is no observable memory effect, i.e., no effect of the previous writing process on the subsequent writing process. Thus, the four processes required for reversible information storage, “write”, “read”, “delete” and “re-write”, were successfully demonstrated on the nanometer scale.
PMCID: PMC3557521  PMID: 23365795
atomic force microscopy; electrochemical deposition; electrochemistry; nanoelectronics; nanofabrication; nanolithography; nanotechnology; MEMS and NEMS; reversible processes; scanning probe microscopy and lithography
17.  Pinch-off mechanism in double-lateral-gate junctionless transistors fabricated by scanning probe microscope based lithography 
A double-lateral-gate p-type junctionless transistor is fabricated on a low-doped (1015) silicon-on-insulator wafer by a lithography technique based on scanning probe microscopy and two steps of wet chemical etching. The experimental transfer characteristics are obtained and compared with the numerical characteristics of the device. The simulation results are used to investigate the pinch-off mechanism, from the flat band to the off state. The study is based on the variation of the carrier density and the electric-field components. The device is a pinch-off transistor, which is normally in the on state and is driven into the off state by the application of a positive gate voltage. We demonstrate that the depletion starts from the bottom corner of the channel facing the gates and expands toward the center and top of the channel. Redistribution of the carriers due to the electric field emanating from the gates creates an electric field perpendicular to the current, toward the bottom of the channel, which provides the electrostatic squeezing of the current.
PMCID: PMC3554704  PMID: 23365794
AFM nanolithography; junctionless transistors; pinch-off; scanning probe microscope; simulation
18.  Effect of spherical Au nanoparticles on nanofriction and wear reduction in dry and liquid environments 
Nano-object additives are used in tribological applications as well as in various applications in liquids requiring controlled manipulation and targeting. On the macroscale, nanoparticles in solids and liquids have been shown to reduce friction and wear. On the nanoscale, atomic force microscopy (AFM) studies have been performed in single- and multiple-nanoparticle contact, in dry environments, to characterize friction forces and wear. However, limited studies in submerged liquid environments have been performed and further studies are needed. In this paper, spherical Au nanoparticles were studied for their effect on friction and wear under dry conditions and submerged in water. In single-nanoparticle contact, individual nanoparticles, deposited on silicon, were manipulated with a sharp tip and the friction force was determined. Multiple-nanoparticle contact sliding experiments were performed on nanoparticle-coated silicon with a glass sphere. Wear tests were performed on the nanoscale with AFM as well as on the macroscale by using a ball-on-flat tribometer to relate friction and wear reduction on the nanoscale and macroscale. Results indicate that the addition of Au nanoparticles reduces friction and wear.
PMCID: PMC3512125  PMID: 23213639
AFM; drug delivery; friction; gold nanoparticles; MEMS/NEMS; nanomanipulation
19.  Friction and durability of virgin and damaged skin with and without skin cream treatment using atomic force microscopy 
Skin can be damaged by the environment easily. Skin cream is an effective and rapid way to moisten the skin by changing the skin surface properties. Rat skin and pig skin are common animal models for studies and were used as skin samples in this study. The nano- and macroscale friction and durability of damaged skin were measured and compared with those of virgin (intact/undamaged) skin. The effect of skin cream on friction and durability of damaged and virgin skin samples is discussed. The effects of velocity, normal load, relative humidity and number of cycles were studied. The nanoscale studies were performed by using atomic force microscope (AFM), and macroscale studies were performed by using a pin-on-disk (POD) reciprocating tribometer. It was found that damaged skin has different mechanical properties, surface roughness, contact angle, friction and durability compared to that of virgin skin. But similar changes occur after skin cream treatment. Rat and pig skin show similar trends in friction and durability.
PMCID: PMC3512123  PMID: 23213637
atomic force microscopy; damaged skin; pig skin; rat skin; skin cream
20.  The memory effect of nanoscale memristors investigated by conducting scanning probe microscopy methods 
We report on the use of scanning force microscopy as a versatile tool for the electrical characterization of nanoscale memristors fabricated on ultrathin La0.7Sr0.3MnO3 (LSMO) films. Combining conventional conductive imaging and nanoscale lithography, reversible switching between low-resistive (ON) and high-resistive (OFF) states was locally achieved by applying voltages within the range of a few volts. Retention times of several months were tested for both ON and OFF states. Spectroscopy modes were used to investigate the I–V characteristics of the different resistive states. This permitted the correlation of device rectification (reset) with the voltage employed to induce each particular state. Analytical simulations by using a nonlinear dopant drift within a memristor device explain the experimental I–V bipolar cycles.
PMCID: PMC3512122  PMID: 23213636
conductive scanning probe micoscopy; memristor; 3-D modes; resistive switching; scanning probe microscopy
21.  The role of the cantilever in Kelvin probe force microscopy measurements 
The role of the cantilever in quantitative Kelvin probe force microscopy (KPFM) is rigorously analyzed. We use the boundary element method to calculate the point spread function of the measuring probe: Tip and cantilever. The calculations show that the cantilever has a very strong effect on the absolute value of the measured contact potential difference even under ultra-high vacuum conditions, and we demonstrate a good agreement between our model and KPFM measurements in ultra-high vacuum of NaCl monolayers grown on Cu(111). The effect of the oscillating cantilever shape on the KPFM resolution and sensitivity has been calculated and found to be relatively small.
PMCID: PMC3148059  PMID: 21977437
boundary elements method; cantilever; convolution; Kelvin probe force microscopy; point spread function
22.  Oriented growth of porphyrin-based molecular wires on ionic crystals analysed by nc-AFM 
The growth of molecular assemblies at room temperature on insulating surfaces is one of the main goals in the field of molecular electronics. Recently, the directed growth of porphyrin-based molecular wires on KBr(001) was presented. The molecule–surface interaction associated with a strong dipole moment of the molecules was sufficient to bind them to the surface; while a stabilization of the molecular assemblies was reached due to the intermolecular interaction by π–π binding. Here, we show that the atomic structure of the substrate can control the direction of the wires and consequently, complex molecular assemblies can be formed. The electronic decoupling of the molecules by one or two monolayers of KBr from the Cu(111) substrate is found to be insufficient to enable comparable growth conditions to bulk ionic materials.
PMCID: PMC3045942  PMID: 21977413
directed growth; KBr; molecular wires; NaCl; nc-AFM; porphyrin; self assembly

Results 1-22 (22)