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1.  Microwave assisted synthesis and characterisation of a zinc oxide/tobacco mosaic virus hybrid material. An active hybrid semiconductor in a field-effect transistor device 
Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) has been employed as a robust functional template for the fabrication of a TMV/zinc oxide field effect transistor (FET). A microwave based approach, under mild conditions was employed to synthesize stable zinc oxide (ZnO) nanoparticles, employing a molecular precursor. Insightful studies of the decomposition of the precursor were done using NMR spectroscopy and material characterization of the hybrid material derived from the decomposition was achieved using dynamic light scattering (DLS), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), grazing incidence X-ray diffractometry (GI-XRD) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). TEM and DLS data confirm the formation of crystalline ZnO nanoparticles tethered on top of the virus template. GI-XRD investigations exhibit an orientated nature of the deposited ZnO film along the c-axis. FET devices fabricated using the zinc oxide mineralized virus template material demonstrates an operational transistor performance which was achieved without any high-temperature post-processing steps. Moreover, a further improvement in FET performance was observed by adjusting an optimal layer thickness of the deposited ZnO on top of the TMV. Such a bio-inorganic nanocomposite semiconductor material accessible using a mild and straightforward microwave processing technique could open up new future avenues within the field of bio-electronics.
PMCID: PMC4419583  PMID: 25977849
field-effect transistor; microwave synthesis; molecular precursor; thin film transistor; tobacco mosaic virus; zinc oxide
2.  Growth and structural discrimination of cortical neurons on randomly oriented and vertically aligned dense carbon nanotube networks 
The growth of cortical neurons on three dimensional structures of spatially defined (structured) randomly oriented, as well as on vertically aligned, carbon nanotubes (CNT) is studied. Cortical neurons are attracted towards both types of CNT nano-architectures. For both, neurons form clusters in close vicinity to the CNT structures whereupon the randomly oriented CNTs are more closely colonised than the CNT pillars. Neurons develop communication paths via neurites on both nanoarchitectures. These neuron cells attach preferentially on the CNT sidewalls of the vertically aligned CNT architecture instead than onto the tips of the individual CNT pillars.
PMCID: PMC4168933  PMID: 25247139
carbon nanotube; chemical vapour deposition; interface; neuron; scaffold
3.  Template-directed synthesis and characterization of microstructured ceramic Ce/ZrO2@SiO2 composite tubes 
An exo-templating synthesis process using polymeric fibers and inorganic sol particles deposited onto structured one-dimensional objects is presented. In particular, CeO2/ZrO2@SiO2 composite tubes were synthesized in a two-step procedure by using electrospun polystyrene fibers as fiber template. First, a sol–gel approach based on an exo-templating technique was employed to obtain polystyrene(PS)/SiO2 composite fibers. These composite fibers were subsequently covered by spray-coating with ceria and zirconia sol solutions. After drying and final calcination of the green body composites, the PS polymer template was removed, and composite tubes of the composition CeO2/ZrO2@SiO2 were obtained. The SiO2/ZrO2/CeO2 microtubes, which consist of interconnected silica particles, are held together by ceria and zirconia deposits formed during the thermal treatment process. These microtubes are mainly located in the pendentive connecting the individual spherical silica particles and glue them together. The composition and crystallinity of this material connecting the individual silica particles contains the elements Ce and Zr and O as mixed oxide solid solution identified by XRD, Raman and high-resolution TEM and EFTEM. High-resolution microscopy techniques allowed for an elemental mapping on the surface of the silica host structure and determination of the O, Zr and Ce elemental distribution with nm precision.
PMCID: PMC4143075  PMID: 25161848
electrospinning; exotemplating; nanostructured solid solution; sol–gel chemistry; Stoeber process; ternary oxide
4.  Template based precursor route for the synthesis of CuInSe2 nanorod arrays for potential solar cell applications 
Polycrystalline CuInSe2 (CISe) nanorods are promising for the fabrication of highly efficient active layers in solar cells. In this work we report on a nanocasting approach, which uses track-etched polycarbonate films as hard templates for obtaining three-dimensionally (3D) arranged CISe nanorod arrays. Copper and indium ketoacidoximato complexes and selenourea were employed as molecular precursors. Arrays of parallel isolated cylindrical pores of 100 nm nominal diameter and 5 μm length were used for the infiltration of the precursor solution under inert atmosphere, followed by drying, thermal conversion into a preceramic ‘green body’, a subsequent dissolution of the template, and a final thermal treatment at 450 °C. The nanorods that where synthesised in this way have dimensions equal to the pore sizes of the template. Investigation of the CuInSe2 nanorod samples by spectroscopic and diffraction methods confirmed a high purity and crystallinity, and a stoichiometric composition of the CISe ternary semiconductor compound.
PMCID: PMC3869223  PMID: 24367756
CIS; light absorption; nanocasting; nanorod arrays; precursor synthesis
5.  Micro- and mesoporous solids: From science to application 
PMCID: PMC3257502  PMID: 22259760
6.  Template-assisted formation of microsized nanocrystalline CeO2 tubes and their catalytic performance in the carboxylation of methanol 
Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA)/ceria composite fibres were synthesized by using a sequential combination of polymer electrospinning, spray-coating with a sol, and a final calcination step to yield microstructured ceria tubes, which are composed of nanocrystalline ceria particles. The PMMA template is removed from the organic/inorganic hybrid material by radio frequency (rf) plasma etching followed by calcination of the ceramic green-body fibres. Microsized ceria (CeO2) tubes, with a diameter of ca. 0.75 µm, composed of nanocrystalline agglomerated ceria particles were thus obtained. The 1-D ceramic ceria material was characterized by X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM), UV–vis and photoluminescence spectroscopy (PL), as well as thermogravimetric analysis (TGA). Its catalytic performance was studied in the direct carboxylation of methanol with carbon dioxide leading to dimethyl carbonate [(CH3O)2CO, DMC], which is widely employed as a phosgene and dimethyl sulfate substitute, and as well as a fuel additive.
PMCID: PMC3257503  PMID: 22259761
activation of CO2; ceria; electrospinning; exotemplating; nanotubes
7.  Generation and agglomeration behaviour of size-selected sub-nm iron clusters as catalysts for the growth of carbon nanotubes 
Mass-selected, ligand-free FeN clusters with N = 10–30 atoms (cluster diameter: 0.6–0.9 nm) were implanted into [Al@SiOx] surfaces at a low surface coverage corresponding to a few thousandths up to a few hundredths of a monolayer in order to avoid initial cluster agglomeration. These studies are aimed towards gaining an insight into the lower limit of the size regime of carbon nanotube (CNT) growth by employing size-selected sub-nm iron clusters as catalyst or precatalyst precursors for CNT growth. Agglomeration of sub-nm iron clusters to iron nanoparticles with a median size range between three and six nanometres and the CNT formation hence can be observed at CVD growth temperatures of 750 °C. Below 600 °C, no CNT growth is observed.
PMCID: PMC3257497  PMID: 22259755
carbon nanotubes; CNT growth; metal clusters; size selected clusters
8.  Studies towards synthesis, evolution and alignment characteristics of dense, millimeter long multiwalled carbon nanotube arrays 
We report the synthesis of aligned arrays of millimeter long carbon nanotubes (CNTs), from benzene and ferrocene as the molecular precursor and catalyst respectively, by a one-step chemical vapor deposition technique. The length of the grown CNTs depends on the reaction temperature and increases from ~85 µm to ~1.4 mm when the synthesis temperature is raised from 650 to 1100 °C, while the tube diameter is almost independent of the preparation temperature and is ~80 nm. The parallel arrangement of the CNTs, as well as their tube diameter can be verified spectroscopically by small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) studies. Based on electron diffraction scattering (EDS) studies of the top and the base of the CNT films, a root growth process can be deduced.
PMCID: PMC3148058  PMID: 21977442
carbon nanotubes; characterization; synthesis

Results 1-8 (8)