EAGER: Towards Atomic-Scale Imaging of Hybrid Nanomaterials.

Project: Research project

Project Details


Heterostructures with at least one single digit nanometer dimension and participation of organic molecules such as carbon nanotubes or self-assembled dielectrics are emerging as exciting alternatives to inorganic semiconductors and insulators with vast applications in printable and flexible electronics. Interfaces in such materials are not only integral to function, but are also becoming increasingly complex in structure and chemistry. Quantitative chemical imaging of all-organic or hybrid organic/inorganic nanomaterials is a formidable challenge to established electron optical methods. We have pioneered atom probe tomography (APT) for the imaging of biomineral nano-composites, where we faced similar challenges (Nature 2011). Herein, we propose to leverage our experience in sample preparation, APT operation, and spectral interpretation to establish the scope of APT for the atomic-scale characterization
of emergent organic and organic/inorganic hybrid materials from single nanoparticles to devices.
Intellectual Merit. Specifically, we propose to investigate three important classes of materials:
I) DNA-wrapped single wall carbon nanotubes as representatives of self-assembled all-organic building
blocks for molecular electronic, optical, and spintronic devices.
II) Self-assembled nano-dielectrics as examples for hybrid organic/inorganic multilayer thin films.
III) Metallic and metal oxide nanoparticle encapsulated in ferritin nanocages as examples for hybrid
organic/inorganic nanomaterials.
For each of these, we will to establish a) a reliable approach to sample preparation; b) perform extensive optimization of atom probe operational parameters; c) optimize 3D reconstruction of these samples, and, using correlative imaging techniques, determine the resolution and thus scope of APT. In the case of ferritin nanoparticles, we will also screen a wide range of inorganic nanoparticle payloads to determine the influence of their chemistry and field evaporation characteristics.
Effective start/end date9/1/138/31/16


  • National Science Foundation (DMR-1341391)


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