ResearchPad - General Physics and Astronomy https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Climate risk index for Italy]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=5b594ca3463d7e5ad39d04c0

We describe a climate risk index that has been developed to inform national climate adaptation planning in Italy and that is further elaborated in this paper. The index supports national authorities in designing adaptation policies and plans, guides the initial problem formulation phase, and identifies administrative areas with higher propensity to being adversely affected by climate change. The index combines (i) climate change-amplified hazards; (ii) high-resolution indicators of exposure of chosen economic, social, natural and built- or manufactured capital (MC) assets and (iii) vulnerability, which comprises both present sensitivity to climate-induced hazards and adaptive capacity. We use standardized anomalies of selected extreme climate indices derived from high-resolution regional climate model simulations of the EURO-CORDEX initiative as proxies of climate change-altered weather and climate-related hazards. The exposure and sensitivity assessment is based on indicators of manufactured, natural, social and economic capital assets exposed to and adversely affected by climate-related hazards. The MC refers to material goods or fixed assets which support the production process (e.g. industrial machines and buildings); Natural Capital comprises natural resources and processes (renewable and non-renewable) producing goods and services for well-being; Social Capital (SC) addressed factors at the individual (people's health, knowledge, skills) and collective (institutional) level (e.g. families, communities, organizations and schools); and Economic Capital (EC) includes owned and traded goods and services. The results of the climate risk analysis are used to rank the subnational administrative and statistical units according to the climate risk challenges, and possibly for financial resource allocation for climate adaptation.

This article is part of the theme issue ‘Advances in risk assessment for climate change adaptation policy’.

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<![CDATA[Hybrid Perovskites: Prospects for Concentrator Solar Cells]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=5b591f7e463d7e56f0caf8ff

Abstract

Perovskite solar cells have shown a meteoric rise of power conversion efficiency and a steady pace of improvements in their stability of operation. Such rapid progress has triggered research into approaches that can boost efficiencies beyond the Shockley–Queisser limit stipulated for a single‐junction cell under normal solar illumination conditions. The tandem solar cell architecture is one concept here that has recently been successfully implemented. However, the approach of solar concentration has not been sufficiently explored so far for perovskite photovoltaics, despite its frequent use in the area of inorganic semiconductor solar cells. Here, the prospects of hybrid perovskites are assessed for use in concentrator solar cells. Solar cell performance parameters are theoretically predicted as a function of solar concentration levels, based on representative assumptions of charge‐carrier recombination and extraction rates in the device. It is demonstrated that perovskite solar cells can fundamentally exhibit appreciably higher energy‐conversion efficiencies under solar concentration, where they are able to exceed the Shockley–Queisser limit and exhibit strongly elevated open‐circuit voltages. It is therefore concluded that sufficient material and device stability under increased illumination levels will be the only significant challenge to perovskite concentrator solar cell applications.

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<![CDATA[Automated image segmentation-assisted flattening of atomic force microscopy images]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=5b59143f463d7e552e09626f

Atomic force microscopy (AFM) images normally exhibit various artifacts. As a result, image flattening is required prior to image analysis. To obtain optimized flattening results, foreground features are generally manually excluded using rectangular masks in image flattening, which is time consuming and inaccurate. In this study, a two-step scheme was proposed to achieve optimized image flattening in an automated manner. In the first step, the convex and concave features in the foreground were automatically segmented with accurate boundary detection. The extracted foreground features were taken as exclusion masks. In the second step, data points in the background were fitted as polynomial curves/surfaces, which were then subtracted from raw images to get the flattened images. Moreover, sliding-window-based polynomial fitting was proposed to process images with complex background trends. The working principle of the two-step image flattening scheme were presented, followed by the investigation of the influence of a sliding-window size and polynomial fitting direction on the flattened images. Additionally, the role of image flattening on the morphological characterization and segmentation of AFM images were verified with the proposed method.

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<![CDATA[Complexes of gold and imidazole formed in helium nanodroplets]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=5b58a506463d7e4da2d63a44

We have studied complexes of gold atoms and imidazole (C3N2H4) produced in helium nanodroplets.

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<![CDATA[Coherent Nanotwins and Dynamic Disorder in Cesium Lead Halide Perovskite Nanocrystals]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=5bfca18bd5eed0c484ff89f6

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Crystal defects in highy luminescent colloidal nanocrystals (NCs) of CsPbX3 perovskites (X = Cl, Br, I) are investigated. Here, using X-ray total scattering techniques and the Debye scattering equation (DSE), we provide evidence that the local structure of these NCs always exhibits orthorhombic tilting of PbX6 octahedra within locally ordered subdomains. These subdomains are hinged through a two-/three-dimensional (2D/3D) network of twin boundaries through which the coherent arrangement of the Pb ions throughout the whole NC is preserved. The density of these twin boundaries determines the size of the subdomains and results in an apparent higher-symmetry structure on average in the high-temperature modification. Dynamic cooperative rotations of PbX6 octahedra are likely at work at the twin boundaries, causing the rearrangement of the 2D or 3D network, particularly effective in the pseudocubic phases. An orthorhombic, 3D γ-phase, isostructural to that of CsPbBr3 is found here in as-synthesized CsPbI3 NCs.

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<![CDATA[Probing DNA Translocations with Inplane Current Signals in a Graphene Nanoribbon with a Nanopore]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=5b4cd87a463d7e0fba429e03

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Many theoretical studies predict that DNA sequencing should be feasible by monitoring the transverse current through a graphene nanoribbon while a DNA molecule translocates through a nanopore in that ribbon. Such a readout would benefit from the special transport properties of graphene, provide ultimate spatial resolution because of the single-atom layer thickness of graphene, and facilitate high-bandwidth measurements. Previous experimental attempts to measure such transverse inplane signals were however dominated by a trivial capacitive response. Here, we explore the feasibility of the approach using a custom-made differential current amplifier that discriminates between the capacitive current signal and the resistive response in the graphene. We fabricate well-defined short and narrow (30 nm × 30 nm) nanoribbons with a 5 nm nanopore in graphene with a high-temperature scanning transmission electron microscope to retain the crystallinity and sensitivity of the graphene. We show that, indeed, resistive modulations can be observed in the graphene current due to DNA translocation through the nanopore, thus demonstrating that DNA sensing with inplane currents in graphene nanostructures is possible. The approach is however exceedingly challenging due to low yields in device fabrication connected to the complex multistep device layout.

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<![CDATA[Correction: Photobleaching of YOYO-1 in super-resolution single DNA fluorescence imaging]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=5b4c771c463d7e0c20d25f0f ]]> <![CDATA[Combined pulsed laser deposition and non-contact atomic force microscopy system for studies of insulator metal oxide thin films]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=5b4bb258463d7e7b755cb5a0

We have designed and developed a combined system of pulsed laser deposition (PLD) and non-contact atomic force microscopy (NC-AFM) for observations of insulator metal oxide surfaces. With this system, the long-period iterations of sputtering and annealing used in conventional methods for preparing a metal oxide film surface are not required. The performance of the combined system is demonstrated for the preparation and high-resolution NC-AFM imaging of atomically flat thin films of anatase TiO2(001) and LaAlO3(100).

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<![CDATA[Electron-driven and thermal chemistry during water-assisted purification of platinum nanomaterials generated by electron beam induced deposition]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=5bf67e3ed5eed0c484ca24c6

Focused electron beam induced deposition (FEBID) is a versatile tool for the direct-write fabrication of nanostructures on surfaces. However, FEBID nanostructures are usually highly contaminated by carbon originating from the precursor used in the process. Recently, it was shown that platinum nanostructures produced by FEBID can be efficiently purified by electron irradiation in the presence of water. If such processes can be transferred to FEBID deposits produced from other carbon-containing precursors, a new general approach to the generation of pure metallic nanostructures could be implemented. Therefore this study aims to understand the chemical reactions that are fundamental to the water-assisted purification of platinum FEBID deposits generated from trimethyl(methylcyclopentadienyl)platinum(IV) (MeCpPtMe3). The experiments performed under ultrahigh vacuum conditions apply a combination of different desorption experiments coupled with mass spectrometry to analyse reaction products. Electron-stimulated desorption monitors species that leave the surface during electron exposure while post-irradiation thermal desorption spectrometry reveals products that evolve during subsequent thermal treatment. In addition, desorption of volatile products was also observed when a deposit produced by electron exposure was subsequently brought into contact with water. The results distinguish between contributions of thermal chemistry, direct chemistry between water and the deposit, and electron-induced reactions that all contribute to the purification process. We discuss reaction kinetics for the main volatile products CO and CH4 to obtain mechanistic information. The results provide novel insights into the chemistry that occurs during purification of FEBID nanostructures with implications also for the stability of the carbonaceous matrix of nanogranular FEBID materials under humid conditions.

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<![CDATA[Bombyx mori silk/titania/gold hybrid materials for photocatalytic water splitting: combining renewable raw materials with clean fuels]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=5bf67e45d5eed0c484ca2683

The synthesis, structure, and photocatalytic water splitting performance of two new titania (TiO2)/gold(Au)/Bombyx mori silk hybrid materials are reported. All materials are monoliths with diameters of up to ca. 4.5 cm. The materials are macroscopically homogeneous and porous with surface areas between 170 and 210 m2/g. The diameter of the TiO2 nanoparticles (NPs) – mainly anatase with a minor fraction of brookite – and the Au NPs are on the order of 5 and 7–18 nm, respectively. Addition of poly(ethylene oxide) to the reaction mixture enables pore size tuning, thus providing access to different materials with different photocatalytic activities. Water splitting experiments using a sunlight simulator and a Xe lamp show that the new hybrid materials are effective water splitting catalysts and produce up to 30 mmol of hydrogen per 24 h. Overall the article demonstrates that the combination of a renewable and robust scaffold such as B. mori silk with a photoactive material provides a promising approach to new monolithic photocatalysts that can easily be recycled and show great potential for application in lightweight devices for green fuel production.

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<![CDATA[Comparative study of post-growth annealing of Cu(hfac)2, Co2(CO)8 and Me2Au(acac) metal precursors deposited by FEBID]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=5bf67e42d5eed0c484ca25b4

Non-noble metals, such as Cu and Co, as well as noble metals, such as Au, can be used in a number modern technological applications, which include advanced scanning-probe systems, magnetic memory and storage, ferroelectric tunnel junction memristors, metal interconnects for high performance integrated circuits in microelectronics and nano-optics applications, especially in the areas of plasmonics and metamaterials. Focused-electron-beam-induced deposition (FEBID) is a maskless direct-write tool capable of defining 3-dimensional metal deposits at nanometre scale for above applications. However, codeposition of organic ligands when using organometallic precursors is a typical problem that limits FEBID of pure metal nanostructures. In this work, we present a comparative study using a post-growth annealing protocol at 100, 200, and 300 °C under high vacuum on deposits obtained from Co2(CO)8, Cu(II)(hfac)2, and Me2Au(acac) to study improvements on composition and electrical conductivity. Although the as-deposited material was similar for all precursors, metal grains embedded in a carbonaceous matrix, the post-growth annealing results differed. Cu-containing deposits showed the formation of pure Cu nanocrystals at the outer surface of the initial deposit for temperatures above 100 °C, due to the migration of Cu atoms from the carbonaceous matrix containing carbon, oxygen, and fluorine atoms. The average size of the Cu crystals doubles between 100 and 300 °C of annealing temperature, while the composition remains constant. In contrast, for Co-containing deposits oxygen release was observed upon annealing, while the carbon content remained approximately constant; the cobalt atoms coalesced to form a metallic film. The as-deposited Au-containing material shows subnanometric grains that coalesce at 100 °C, maintaining the same average size at annealing temperatures up to 300 °C. Raman analysis suggests that the amorphous carbonaceous matrix of the as-written Co, Cu and Au deposits turned into nanocrystalline graphite with comparable crystal sizes of 12–14 nm at 300 °C annealing temperature. However, we observed a more effective formation of graphite clusters in Co- than in Cu- and Au-containing deposits. The graphitisation has a minor influence on the electrical conductivity improvements of Co–C deposits, which is attributed to the high as-deposited Co content and the related metal grain percolation. On the contrary, electrical conductivity improvements by factors of 30 and 12 for, respectively, Cu–C and Au–C deposits with low metal content are mainly attributed to the graphitisation. This relatively simple vacuum-based post-growth annealing protocol may be useful for other precursors as it proved to be efficient in reliably tuning the electrical properties of as-deposited FEBID materials. Finally, a H2-assisted gold purification protocol is demonstrated at temperatures around 300 °C by fully removing the carbon matrix and drastically reducing the electrical resistance of the deposit.

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<![CDATA[Growth model and structure evolution of Ag layers deposited on Ge films]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=5bf67e40d5eed0c484ca252d

We investigated the crystallinity and optical parameters of silver layers of 10–35 nm thickness as a function 2–10 nm thick Ge wetting films deposited on SiO2 substrates. X-ray reflectometry (XRR) and X-ray diffraction (XRD) measurements proved that segregation of germanium into the surface of the silver film is a result of the gradient growth of silver crystals. The free energy of Ge atoms is reduced by their migration from boundaries of larger grains at the Ag/SiO2 interface to boundaries of smaller grains near the Ag surface. Annealing at different temperatures and various durations allowed for a controlled distribution of crystal dimensions, thus influencing the segregation rate. Furthermore, using ellipsometric and optical transmission measurements we determined the time-dependent evolution of the film structure. If stored under ambient conditions for the first week after deposition, the changes in the transmission spectra are smaller than the measurement accuracy. Over the course of the following three weeks, the segregation-induced effects result in considerably modified transmission spectra. Two months after deposition, the slope of the silver layer density profile derived from the XRR spectra was found to be inverted due to the completed segregation process, and the optical transmission spectra increased uniformly due to the roughened surfaces, corrosion of silver and ongoing recrystallization. The Raman spectra of the Ge wetted Ag films were measured immediately after deposition and ten days later and demonstrated that the Ge atoms at the Ag grain boundaries form clusters of a few atoms where the Ge–Ge bonds are still present.

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<![CDATA[Gas-assisted silver deposition with a focused electron beam]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=5bf67e3dd5eed0c484ca2462

Focused electron beam induced deposition (FEBID) is a flexible direct-write method to obtain defined structures with a high lateral resolution. In order to use this technique in application fields such as plasmonics, suitable precursors which allow the deposition of desired materials have to be identified. Well known for its plasmonic properties, silver represents an interesting candidate for FEBID. For this purpose the carboxylate complex silver(I) pentafluoropropionate (AgO2CC2F5) was used for the first time in FEBID and resulted in deposits with high silver content of up to 76 atom %. As verified by TEM investigations, the deposited material is composed of pure silver crystallites in a carbon matrix. It showed good electrical properties and a strong Raman signal enhancement. Interestingly, silver crystal growth presents a strong dependency on electron dose and precursor refreshment.

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<![CDATA[Liquid-crystalline nanoarchitectures for tissue engineering]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=5bf67e69d5eed0c484ca2cc2

Hierarchical orders are found throughout all levels of biosystems, from simple biopolymers, subcellular organelles, single cells, and macroscopic tissues to bulky organs. Especially, biological tissues and cells have long been known to exhibit liquid crystal (LC) orders or their structural analogues. Inspired by those native architectures, there has recently been increased interest in research for engineering nanobiomaterials by incorporating LC templates and scaffolds. In this review, we introduce and correlate diverse LC nanoarchitectures with their biological functionalities, in the context of tissue engineering applications. In particular, the tissue-mimicking LC materials with different LC phases and the regenerative potential of hard and soft tissues are summarized. In addition, the multifaceted aspects of LC architectures for developing tissue-engineered products are envisaged. Lastly, a perspective on the opportunities and challenges for applying LC nanoarchitectures in tissue engineering fields is discussed.

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<![CDATA[Anchoring of a dye precursor on NiO(001) studied by non-contact atomic force microscopy]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=5bf67e44d5eed0c484ca2626

The properties of metal oxides, such as charge-transport mechanisms or optoelectronic characteristics, can be modified by functionalization with organic molecules. This kind of organic/inorganic surface is nowadays highly regarded, in particular, for the design of hybrid devices such as dye-sensitized solar cells. However, a key parameter for optimized interfaces is not only the choice of the compounds but also the properties of adsorption. Here, we investigated the deposition of an organic dye precursor molecule on a NiO(001) single crystal surface by means of non-contact atomic force microscopy at room temperature. Depending on the coverage, single molecules, groups of adsorbates with random or recognizable shapes, or islands of closely packed molecules were identified. Single molecules and self assemblies are resolved with submolecular resolution showing that they are lying flat on the surface in a trans-conformation. Within the limits of our Kelvin probe microscopy setup a charge transfer from NiO to the molecular layer of 0.3 electrons per molecules was observed only in the areas where the molecules are closed packed.

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<![CDATA[Nematic topological defects positionally controlled by geometry and external fields]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=5bf67e67d5eed0c484ca2c42

Using a Landau–de Gennes approach, we study the impact of confinement topology, geometry and external fields on the spatial positioning of nematic topological defects (TDs). In quasi two-dimensional systems we demonstrate that a confinement-enforced total topological charge of m > 1/2 decays into elementary TDs bearing a charge of m = 1/2. These assemble close to the bounding substrate to enable essentially bulk-like uniform nematic ordering in the central part of a system. This effect is reminiscent of the Faraday cavity phenomenon in electrostatics. We observe that in certain confinement geometries, varying the correlation length size of the order parameter could trigger a global rotation of an assembly of TDs. Finally, we show that an external electric field could be used to drag the boojum fingertip towards the interior of the confinement cell. Assemblies of TDs could be exploited as traps for appropriate nanoparticles, opening several opportunities for the development of functional nanodevices.

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<![CDATA[Al2O3/TiO2 inverse opals from electrosprayed self-assembled templates]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=5bf67e63d5eed0c484ca2b63

The fabrication of high optical quality inverse opals is challenging, requiring large size, three-dimensional ordered layers of high dielectric constant ratio. In this article, alumina/TiO2–air inverse opals with a 98.2% reflectivity peak at 798 nm having an area of 2 cm2 and a thickness of 17 µm are achieved using a sacrificial self-assembled structure of large thickness, which was produced with minimum fabrication errors by means of an electrospray technique. Using alumina as the first supporting layer enables the deposition of TiO2 at a higher temperature, therefore providing better optical quality.

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<![CDATA[Gas-sensing behaviour of ZnO/diamond nanostructures]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=5b49f91f463d7e3c096da5c7

Microstructured single- and double-layered sensor devices based on p-type hydrogen-terminated nanocrystalline diamond (NCD) films and/or n-type ZnO nanorods (NRs) have been obtained via a facile microwave-plasma-enhanced chemical vapour deposition process or a hydrothermal growth procedure. The morphology and crystal structure of the synthesized materials was analysed with scanning electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction measurements and Raman spectroscopy. The gas sensing properties of the sensors based on i) NCD films, ii) ZnO nanorods, and iii) hybrid ZnO NRs/NCD structures were evaluated with respect to oxidizing (i.e., NO2, CO2) and reducing (i.e., NH3) gases at 150 °C. The hybrid ZnO NRs/NCD sensor showed a remarkably enhanced NO2 response compared to the ZnO NRs sensor. Further, inspired by this special hybrid structure, the simulation of interaction between the gas molecules (NO2 and CO2) and hybrid ZnO NRs/NCD sensor was studied using DFT calculations.

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<![CDATA[Exploring wear at the nanoscale with circular mode atomic force microscopy]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=5b49a3a3463d7e0e348cecde

The development of atomic force microscopy (AFM) has allowed wear mechanisms to be investigated at the nanometer scale by means of a single asperity contact generated by an AFM tip and an interacting surface. However, the low wear rate at the nanoscale and the thermal drift require fastidious quantitative measurements of the wear volume for determining wear laws. In this paper, we describe a new, effective, experimental methodology based on circular mode AFM, which generates high frequency, circular displacements of the contact. Under such conditions, the wear rate is significant and the drift of the piezoelectric actuator is limited. As a result, well-defined wear tracks are generated and an accurate computation of the wear volume is possible. Finally, we describe the advantages of this method and we report a relevant application example addressing a Cu/Al2O3 nanocomposite material used in industrial applications.

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<![CDATA[Pressure-Induced Melting of Confined Ice]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=5b46f7c0463d7e68f1241e5f

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The classic regelation experiment of Thomson in the 1850s deals with cutting an ice cube, followed by refreezing. The cutting was attributed to pressure-induced melting but has been challenged continuously, and only lately consensus emerged by understanding that compression shortens the O:H nonbond and lengthens the H–O bond simultaneously. This H–O elongation leads to energy loss and lowers the melting point. The hot debate survived well over 150 years, mainly due to a poorly defined heat exchange with the environment in the experiment. In our current experiment, we achieved thermal isolation from the environment and studied the fully reversible ice–liquid water transition for water confined between graphene and muscovite mica. We observe a transition from two-dimensional (2D) ice into a quasi-liquid phase by applying a pressure exerted by an atomic force microscopy tip. At room temperature, the critical pressure amounts to about 6 GPa. The transition is completely reversible: refreezing occurs when the applied pressure is lifted. The critical pressure to melt the 2D ice decreases with temperature, and we measured the phase coexistence line between 293 and 333 K. From a Clausius–Clapeyron analysis, we determine the latent heat of fusion of two-dimensional ice at 0.15 eV/molecule, being twice as large as that of bulk ice.

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