ResearchPad - nanoscience https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[A novel dry-blending method to reduce the coefficient of thermal expansion of polymer templates for OTFT electrodes]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_11241 Among the patterning technologies for organic thin-film transistors (OTFTs), the fabrication of OTFT electrodes using polymer templates has attracted much attention. However, deviations in the electrode alignment occur because the coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) of the polymer template is much higher than the CTE of the dielectric layer. Here, a novel dry-blending method is described in which SiO2 nanoparticles are filled into a grooved silicon template, followed by permeation of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) into the SiO2 nanoparticle gaps. The SiO2 nanoparticles in the groove are extracted by curing and peeling off PDMS to prepare a PDMS/SiO2 composite template with a nanoparticle content of 83.8 wt %. The composite template has a CTE of 96 ppm/°C, which is a reduction by 69.23% compared with the original PDMS template. Finally, we achieved the alignment of OTFT electrodes using the composite template.

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<![CDATA[Electromigration-induced directional steps towards the formation of single atomic Ag contacts]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_11240 Even though there have been many experimental attempts and theoretical approaches to understand the process of electromigration (EM), it has not been quantitatively understood for ultrathin structures and at grain boundaries. Nevertheless, we showed recently that it can be used reliably for the formation of single atomic point contacts after careful pre-structuring of the initial Ag nanostructures. The process of formation of nanocontacts by EM down to a single-atom point contact was investigated for ultrathin (5 nm) Ag structures at 100 K by measuring the conductance as a function of the time during EM. In this paper, we compare the process of thinning by EM of structures with constrictions below the average grain size of Ag layers (15 nm) with that of structures with much larger initial constrictions of around 150 nm having multiple grains at the centre constriction prior to the formation of a point contact. Even though clear morphological differences exist between both types of structures, quantized conductance plateaus showing the formation of single point contacts have been observed for both. Here we put emphasis on the thinning process by EM, just before a point contact is formed. To understand this thinning process, the semi-classical regime before the contact reaches the quantum regime was analyzed in detail. For this purpose, we used experimental conductance histograms in the range between 2G0 and 15G0 and their corresponding Fourier transforms (FTs). The FT analysis of the conductance histograms exhibits a clear preference for thinning along the [100] direction. Using well-established models, both atom-by-atom steps and ranges of stability, presumably caused by electronic shell effects, can be discriminated. Although the directional motion of atoms during EM leads to specific properties such as the instabilities mentioned, similarities to mechanically opened contacts with respect to cross-sectional stability were found.

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<![CDATA[Effect of substitutional defects on resonant tunneling diodes based on armchair graphene and boron nitride nanoribbons lateral heterojunctions]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_11239 A nanometer-scaled resonant tunneling diode based on lateral heterojunctions of armchair graphene and boron nitride nanoribbons, exhibiting negative differential resistance is proposed. Low-bandgap armchair graphene nanoribbons and high-bandgap armchair boron nitride nanoribbons are used to design the well and the barrier region, respectively. The effect of all possible substitutional defects (including BC, NC, CB, and CN) at the interface of graphene and boron nitride nanoribbons on the negative differential resistance behavior of the proposed resonant tunneling diode is investigated. Transport simulations are carried out in the framework of tight-binding Hamiltonians and non-equilibrium Green’s functions. The results show that a single substitutional defect at the interface of armchair graphene and boron nitride nanoribbons can dramatically affect the negative differential resistance behavior depending on its type and location in the structure.

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<![CDATA[Quantitative determination of the interaction potential between two surfaces using frequency-modulated atomic force microscopy]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_7817 The interaction potential between two surfaces determines the adhesive and repulsive forces between them. It also determines interfacial properties, such as adhesion and friction, and is a key input into mechanics models and atomistic simulations of contacts. We have developed a novel methodology to experimentally determine interaction potential parameters, given a particular potential form, using frequency-modulated atomic force microscopy (AFM). Furthermore, this technique can be extended to the experimental verification of potential forms for any given material pair. Specifically, interaction forces are determined between an AFM tip apex and a nominally flat substrate using dynamic force spectroscopy measurements in an ultrahigh vacuum (UHV) environment. The tip geometry, which is initially unknown and potentially irregularly shaped, is determined using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) imaging. It is then used to generate theoretical interaction force–displacement relations, which are then compared to experimental results. The method is demonstrated here using a silicon AFM probe with its native oxide and a diamond sample. Assuming the 6-12 Lennard-Jones potential form, best-fit values for the work of adhesion (Wadh) and range of adhesion (z0) parameters were determined to be 80 ± 20 mJ/m2 and 0.6 ± 0.2 nm, respectively. Furthermore, the shape of the experimentally extracted force curves was shown to deviate from that calculated using the 6-12 Lennard-Jones potential, having weaker attraction at larger tip–sample separation distances and weaker repulsion at smaller tip–sample separation distances. This methodology represents the first experimental technique in which material interaction potential parameters were verified over a range of tip–sample separation distances for a tip apex of arbitrary geometry.

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<![CDATA[Stochastic excitation for high-resolution atomic force acoustic microscopy imaging: a system theory approach]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_8468 In this work, a high-resolution atomic force acoustic microscopy imaging technique is developed in order to obtain the local indentation modulus at the nanoscale level. The technique uses a model that gives a qualitative relationship between a set of contact resonance frequencies and the indentation modulus. It is based on white-noise excitation of the tip–sample interaction and uses system theory for the extraction of the resonance modes. During conventional scanning, for each pixel, the tip–sample interaction is excited with a white-noise signal. Then, a fast Fourier transform is applied to the deflection signal that comes from the photodiodes of the atomic force microscopy (AFM) equipment. This approach allows for the measurement of several vibrational modes in a single step with high frequency resolution, with less computational cost and at a faster speed than other similar techniques. This technique is referred to as stochastic atomic force acoustic microscopy (S-AFAM), and the frequency shifts of the free resonance frequencies of an AFM cantilever are used to determine the mechanical properties of a material. S-AFAM is implemented and compared with a conventional technique (resonance tracking-atomic force acoustic microscopy, RT-AFAM). A sample of a graphite film on a glass substrate is analyzed. S-AFAM can be implemented in any AFM system due to its reduced instrumentation requirements compared to conventional techniques.

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<![CDATA[Effect of Ag loading position on the photocatalytic performance of TiO<sub>2</sub> nanocolumn arrays]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_8467 Plasmonic metal/semiconductor composites have attracted great attention for efficient solar energy harvesting in photovoltaic and photocatalytic applications owing to their extremely high visible-light absorption and tuned effective band gap. In this work, Ag-loaded TiO2 nanocolumn (Ag-TNC) arrays were fabricated based on anodic aluminum oxide (AAO) template by combining atomic layer deposition (ALD) and vacuum evaporation. The effects of the Ag loading position and deposition thickness, and the morphology, structure and composition of Ag-deposited TNC arrays on its optical and photocatalytic properties were studied. The Ag-filled TiO2 (AFT) nanocolumn arrays exhibited higher removal efficiency of methylene blue (MB) compared with Ag-coated TiO2 (ACT) nanocolumn arrays and pure TiO2 nanocolumns arrays. Both experimental and theoretical simulation results demonstrated that the enhanced photocatalytic performance of AFT nanocolumn arrays was attributed to the surface plasmon resonance (SPR) of Ag and the absorption of light by TiO2. These results represent a promising step forward to the development of high-performance photocatalysts for energy conversion and storage.

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<![CDATA[Hexagonal boron nitride: a review of the emerging material platform for single-photon sources and the spin–photon interface]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_7804 Single-photon sources and their optical spin readout are at the core of applications in quantum communication, quantum computation, and quantum sensing. Their integration in photonic structures such as photonic crystals, microdisks, microring resonators, and nanopillars is essential for their deployment in quantum technologies. While there are currently only two material platforms (diamond and silicon carbide) with proven single-photon emission from the visible to infrared, a quantum spin–photon interface, and ancilla qubits, it is expected that other material platforms could emerge with similar characteristics in the near future. These two materials also naturally lead to monolithic integrated photonics as both are good photonic materials. While so far the verification of single-photon sources was based on discovery, assignment and then assessment and control of their quantum properties for applications, a better approach could be to identify applications and then search for the material that could address the requirements of the application in terms of quantum properties of the defects. This approach is quite difficult as it is based mostly on the reliability of modeling and predicting of color center properties in various materials, and their experimental verification is challenging. In this paper, we review some recent advances in an emerging material, low-dimensional (2D, 1D, 0D) hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN), which could lead to establishing such a platform. We highlight the recent achievements of the specific material for the expected applications in quantum technologies, indicating complementary outstanding properties compared to the other 3D bulk materials.

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<![CDATA[Structural optical and electrical properties of a transparent conductive ITO/Al–Ag/ITO multilayer contact]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_7788 Indium tin oxide (ITO) is a widely used material for transparent conductive oxide (TCO) films due to its good optical and electrical properties. Improving the optoelectronic properties of ITO films with reduced thickness is crucial and quite challenging. ITO-based multilayer films with an aluminium–silver (Al–Ag) interlayer (ITO/Al–Ag/ITO) and a pure ITO layer (as reference) were prepared by RF and DC sputtering. The microstructural, optical and electrical properties of the ITO/Al–Ag/ITO (IAAI) films were investigated before and after annealing at 400 °C. X-ray diffraction measurements show that the insertion of the Al–Ag intermediate bilayer led to the crystallization of an Ag interlayer even at the as-deposited stage. Peaks attributed to ITO(222), Ag(111) and Al(200) were observed after annealing, indicating an enhancement in crystallinity of the multilayer films. The annealed IAAI film exhibited a remarkable improvement in optical transmittance (86.1%) with a very low sheet resistance of 2.93 Ω/sq. The carrier concentration increased more than twice when the Al–Ag layer was inserted between the ITO layers. The figure of merit of the IAAI multilayer contact has been found to be high at 76.4 × 10−3 Ω−1 compared to a pure ITO contact (69.4 × 10−3 Ω−1). These highly conductive and transparent ITO films with Al–Ag interlayer can be a promising contact for low-resistance optoelectronics devices.

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<![CDATA[Nanoparticles based on the zwitterionic pillar[5]arene and Ag+: synthesis, self-assembly and cytotoxicity in the human lung cancer cell line A549]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N06f88fbe-3e18-4938-bcf5-cf21717415bf

For the first time, stable pillar[5]arene/Ag+ nanoparticles, consisting of water-soluble pillar[5]arene containing γ-sulfobetaine fragments and Ag+ ions without Ag–Ag bonds, were synthesized and characterized. The pillar[5]arene/Ag+ (ratio 1:10) nanoparticles obtained were cubic with a rib length of 100 nm and are less cytotoxic than Ag+ ions. The survival of the A549 model cells in the presence of pillar[5]arene/Ag+ (1:10) nanoparticles at a concentration of 30 and 40 μM was 76% and 55%, while in the absence of pillar[5]arene, the cell survival for free Ag+ ions at the same concentration was 30% and 10%, respectively. The results can be used to create new antibacterial materials and 2D biomedical coatings.

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<![CDATA[Electrochemically derived functionalized graphene for bulk production of hydrogen peroxide]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N29cf17f4-3138-48b3-8437-82e758fc894c

On-site peroxide generation via electrochemical reduction is gaining tremendous attention due to its importance in many fields, including water treatment technologies. Oxidized graphitic carbon-based materials have been recently proposed as an alternative to metal-based catalysts in the electrochemical oxygen reduction reaction (ORR), and in this work we unravel the role of C=O groups in graphene towards sustainable peroxide formation. We demonstrate a versatile single-step electrochemical exfoliation of graphite to graphene with a controllable degree of oxygen functionalities and thickness, leading to the formation of large quantities of functionalized graphene with tunable rate parameters, such as the rate constant and exchange current density. Higher oxygen-containing exfoliated graphene is known to undergo a two-electron reduction path in ORR having an efficiency of about 80 ± 2% even at high overpotential. Bulk production of H2O2 via electrolysis was also demonstrated at low potential (0.358 mV vs RHE), yielding ≈34 mg/L peroxide with highly functionalized (≈23 atom %) graphene and ≈16 g/L with low functionalized (≈13 atom %) graphene, which is on par with the peroxide production using state-of-the-art precious-metal-based catalysts. Hence this method opens a new scheme for the single-step large-scale production of functionalized carbon-based catalysts (yield ≈45% by weight) that have varying functionalities and can deliver peroxide via the electrochemical ORR process.

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<![CDATA[High dynamic resistance elements based on a Josephson junction array]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Nd873b370-3389-45cd-8183-0952bc673cb4

A chain of superconductor–insulator–superconductor junctions based on Al–AlOx–Al nanostructures and fabricated using conventional lift-off lithography techniques was measured at ultra-low temperatures. At zero magnetic field, the low current bias dynamic resistance can reach values of ≈1011 Ω. It was demonstrated that the system can provide a decent quality current biasing circuit, enabling the observation of Coulomb blockade and Bloch oscillations in ultra-narrow Ti nanowires associated with the quantum phase-slip effect.

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<![CDATA[Synthesis and enhanced photocatalytic performance of 0D/2D CuO/tourmaline composite photocatalysts]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N9d541b99-337e-4b3e-a1ef-462e829df591

Photocatalysis is considered to be a green and promising technology for transforming organic contaminants into nontoxic products. In this work, a CuO/tourmaline composite with zero-dimensional/two-dimensional (0D/2D) CuO architecture was successfully obtained via a facile hydrothermal process, and its photocatalytic activity was evaluated by the degradation of methylene blue (MB). Surface element valence state and molecular vibration characterization revealed that CuO chemically interacted with tourmaline via Si–O–Cu bonds. The specific surface area of the CuO/tourmaline composite (23.60 m2 g−1) was larger than that of the pristine CuO sample (3.41 m2 g−1). The CuO/tourmaline composite exhibited excellent photocatalytic activity for the degradation of MB, which was ascribed to the increase in the quantity of the adsorption-photoreactive sites and the efficient utilization of the photoinduced charge carriers. This study provides a facile strategy for the construction of 0D/2D CuO structures and the design of tourmaline-based functional composite photocatalysts for the treatment of organic contaminants in water.

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<![CDATA[Atomic-resolution imaging of rutile TiO2(110)-(1 × 2) reconstructed surface by non-contact atomic force microscopy]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N6017abf4-5426-4e6c-985e-31396050bc82

The structure of the rutile TiO2(110)-(1 × 2) reconstructed surface is a phase induced by oxygen reduction. There is ongoing debate about the (1 × 2) reconstruction, because it cannot be clarified whether the (1 × 2) structure is formed over a wide area or only locally using macroscopic analysis methods such as diffraction. We used non-contact atomic force microscopy, scanning tunneling microscopy, and low-energy electron diffraction at room temperature to characterize the surface. Ti2O3 rows appeared as bright spots in both NC-AFM and STM images observed in the same area. High-resolution NC-AFM images revealed that the rutile TiO2(110)-(1 × 2) reconstructed surface is composed of two domains with different types of asymmetric rows.

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<![CDATA[Nanoarchitectonics: bottom-up creation of functional materials and systems]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N2288b092-02f6-4d59-9ab9-44d8f1385395 ]]> <![CDATA[Current measurements in the intermittent-contact mode of atomic force microscopy using the Fourier method: a feasibility analysis]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N58b1921a-e577-4faf-81a8-ea229cede187

Atomic force microscopy (AFM) is an important tool for measuring a variety of nanoscale surface properties, such as topography, viscoelasticity, electrical potential and conductivity. Some of these properties are measured using contact methods (static contact or intermittent contact), while others are measured using noncontact methods. Some properties can be measured using different approaches. Conductivity, in particular, is mapped using the contact-mode method. However, this modality can be destructive to delicate samples, since it involves continuously dragging the cantilever tip on the surface during the raster scan, while a constant tip–sample force is applied. In this paper we discuss a possible approach to develop an intermittent-contact conductive AFM mode based on Fourier analysis, whereby the measured current response consists of higher harmonics of the cantilever oscillation frequency. Such an approach may enable the characterization of soft samples with less damage than contact-mode imaging. To explore its feasibility, we derive the analytical form of the tip–sample current that would be obtained for attractive (noncontact) and repulsive (intermittent-contact) dynamic AFM characterization, and compare it with results obtained from numerical simulations. Although significant instrumentation challenges are anticipated, the modelling results are promising and suggest that Fourier-based higher-harmonics current measurement may enable the development of a reliable intermittent-contact conductive AFM method.

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<![CDATA[Contactless photomagnetoelectric investigations of 2D semiconductors]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c131dd0d5eed0c4849905bf

Background: Applications of two-dimensional (2D) materials in electronic devices require the development of appropriate measuring methods for determining their typical semiconductor parameters, i.e., mobility and carrier lifetime. Among these methods, contactless techniques and mobility extraction methods based on field-effect measurements are of great importance.

Results: Here we show a contactless method for determining these parameters in 2D semiconductors that is based on the photomagnetoelectric (PME) effect (also known as the photoelectromagnetic effect). We present calculated dependences of the PME magnetic moment, evoked in 2D Corbino configuration, on the magnetic field as well as on the intensity and spatial distribution of illumination. The theoretical predictions agree with the results of the contactless investigations performed on non-suspended single-layer graphene. We use the contactless PME method for determining the dependence of carrier mobility on the concentration of electrons and holes induced by a back-gate voltage.

Conclusion: The presented contactless PME method, used in Corbino geometry, is complementary to the mobility extraction methods based on field-effect measurements. It can be used for determining the mobility and diffusion length of carriers in different 2D materials.

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<![CDATA[Accurate control of the covalent functionalization of single-walled carbon nanotubes for the electro-enzymatically controlled oxidation of biomolecules]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c131dd9d5eed0c484990860

Single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) were functionalized by ferrocene through ethyleneglycol chains of different lengths (FcETGn) and the functionalized SWCNTs (f-SWCNTs) were characterized by different complementary analytical techniques. In particular, high-resolution scanning electron transmission microscopy (HRSTEM) and electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS) analyses support that the outer tubes of the carbon-nanotube bundles were covalently grafted with FcETGn groups. This result confirms that the electrocatalytic effect observed during the oxidation of the reduced form of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) co-factor by the f-SWCNTs is due to the presence of grafted ferrocene derivatives playing the role of a mediator. This work clearly proves that residual impurities present in our SWCNT sample (below 5 wt. %) play no role in the electrocatalytic oxidation of NADH. Moreover, molecular dynamic simulations confirm the essential role of the PEG linker in the efficiency of the bioelectrochemical device in water, due to the favorable interaction between the ETG units and water molecules that prevents π-stacking of the ferrocene unit on the surface of the CNTs. This system can be applied to biosensing, as exemplified for glucose detection. The well-controlled and well-characterized functionalization of essentially clean SWCNTs enabled us to establish the maximum level of impurity content, below which the f-SWCNT intrinsic electrochemical activity is not jeopardized.

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<![CDATA[Characterization of the microscopic tribological properties of sandfish (Scincus scincus) scales by atomic force microscopy]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c131dd7d5eed0c4849907dc

Lizards of the genus Scincus are widely known under the common name sandfish due to their ability to swim in loose, aeolian sand. Some studies report that this fascinating property of sandfish is accompanied by unique tribological properties of their skin such as ultra-low adhesion, friction and wear. The majority of these reports, however, is based on experiments conducted with a non-standard granular tribometer. Here, we characterise microscopic adhesion, friction and wear of single sandfish scales by atomic force microscopy. The analysis of frictional properties with different types of probes (sharp silicon tips, spherical glass tips and sand debris) demonstrates that the tribological properties of sandfish scales on the microscale are not exceptional if compared to snake scales or technical surfaces such as aluminium, Teflon, or highly oriented pyrolytic graphite.

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<![CDATA[Low cost tips for tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy fabricated by two-step electrochemical etching of 125 µm diameter gold wires]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c131dd4d5eed0c4849906e0

Tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (TERS) has become a well-applied technique for nanospectroscopy, allowing for single molecule sensitivity with sub-nanometer spatial resolution. The demand for efficient, reproducible and cost-effective probes for TERS is increasing. Here we report on a new electrochemical etching protocol to fabricate TERS tips starting from 125 µm diameter gold wires in a reproducible way. The process is reliable (50% of the tips have radius of curvature <35 nm, 66% <80 nm), fast (less than 2 min) and 2.5 times cheaper than the etching of standard 250 µm diameter wires. The TERS performance of the tips is tested on dyes, pigments and biomolecules and enhancement factors higher than 105 are observed. TERS mapping with a spatial resolution of 5 nm is demonstrated.

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<![CDATA[Impact of the anodization time on the photocatalytic activity of TiO2 nanotubes]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c131dcfd5eed0c484990534

Titanium oxide nanotubes (TNTs) were anodically grown in ethylene glycol electrolyte. The influence of the anodization time on their physicochemical and photoelectrochemical properties was evaluated. Concomitant with the anodization time, the NT length, fluorine content, and capacitance of the space charge region increased, affecting the opto-electronic properties (bandgap, bathochromic shift, band-edge position) and surface hydrophilicity of TiO2 NTs. These properties are at the origin of the photocatalytic activity (PCA), as proved with the photooxidation of methylene blue.

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