European researchers identify materials at the nanoscale

Aug 02, 2012

Spanish and German researchers have made a new instrumental development that solves a key materials science and nanotechnology question: how to chemically identify materials at the nanometre scale.

One of and materials science's main goals is to achieve the non-invasive chemical mapping of materials with nanometre-scale resolution.

Although a variety of high-resolution imaging techniques currently exist, such as or scanning probe microscopy, their chemical sensitivity cannot meet the demands of modern chemical nano-analytics. And despite the high chemical sensitivity offered by optical spectroscopy, its resolution is limited by diffraction to about half the wavelength, thus preventing nano-scale-resolved chemical mapping.

But now the European team has come up with a new method called Nano-FTIR, as they explain in the journal .

Nano-FTIR is an that combines scattering-type scanning near-field (s-SNOM) and Fourier Transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy.

The team illuminated the metallised tip of an (AFM) with a broadband infrared laser, and analysed the backscattered light with a specially designed Fourier Transform spectrometer. This meant they could demonstrate local with a spatial resolution of less than 20 nanometres.

Lead study author Florian Huth from Spanish research centre nanoGUNE, based in San Sebastián, comments: 'Nano-FTIR thus allows for fast and reliable chemical identification of virtually any infrared-active material on the nanometer scale.'

To boot, nano-FTIR spectra match extremely well with conventional FTIR spectra. The spatial resolution is increased by more than a factor of 300 compared to conventional infrared spectroscopy.

Rainer Hillenbrand, also from nanoGUNE, says: 'The high sensitivity to chemical composition combined with ultra-high resolution makes nano-FTIR a unique tool for research, development and quality control in polymer chemistry, biomedicine and pharmaceutical industry.'

For example, nano-FTIR can be applied for the chemical identification of nano-scale sample contaminations.

Broadly speaking, nanotechnology is the manipulation of matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Nanotechnology researchers work with materials, devices and other structures that have at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometres.

It is hoped that nanotechnology will continue to help create new materials and devices that can be applied in a range of fields such as medicine, electronics and biomaterials.

Explore further: Competition for graphene: Researchers demonstrate ultrafast charge transfer in new family of 2-D semiconductors

More information: Huth, F., et al. 'Nano-FTIR absorption spectroscopy of molecular fingerprints at 20 nm spatial resolution', Nano Letters, 2012. doi:10.1021/nl301159v

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Tension in the nanoworld

Jan 23, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- A joint team of researchers at CIC nanoGUNE (San Sebastian, Spain) and the Max Planck Institutes of Biochemistry and Plasma Physics (Munich, Germany) report the non-invasive and nanoscale ...

Crystals in Nanofocus

Aug 31, 2004

Max Planck Scientists strike new paths in nanoanalysis and data storage with infrared light Scientists of the Nano-Photonics Group at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry have developed a new infrared- ...

Femtogram-level chemical measurements now possible

Mar 27, 2008

Finding a simple and convenient technique that combines nanoscale structural measurements and chemical identification has been an elusive goal. With current analytical instruments, spatial resolution is too low, signal-to-noise ...

Recommended for you

Graphene reinvents the future

2 hours ago

For many scientists, the discovery of one-atom-thick sheets of graphene is hugely significant, something with the potential to affect just about every aspect of human activity and endeavour.

Catalytic gold nanoclusters promise rich chemical yields

Aug 25, 2014

(Phys.org) —Old thinking was that gold, while good for jewelry, was not of much use for chemists because it is relatively nonreactive. That changed a decade ago when scientists hit a rich vein of discoveries ...

Copper shines as flexible conductor

Aug 22, 2014

Bend them, stretch them, twist them, fold them: modern materials that are light, flexible and highly conductive have extraordinary technological potential, whether as artificial skin or electronic paper.

User comments : 0