Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Molecular depth profiling modeled with buckyballs and argon

The rectangular depression is the result of multiple bombardments of the surface with buckyballs and argon during a depth-profiling procedure. Image: Zbigniew Postawa, Jagiellonian University, Poland
The rectangular depression is the result of multiple bombardments of the surface with buckyballs and argon during a depth-profiling procedure. Image: Zbigniew Postawa, Jagiellonian University, Poland

Abstract:
A team of scientists led by a Penn State University chemist has demonstrated the strengths and weaknesses of an alternative method of molecular depth profiling—a technique used to analyze the surface of ultra-thin materials such as human tissue, nanoparticles, and other substances. In the new study, the researchers used computer simulations and modeling to show the effectiveness and limitations of the alternative method, which is being used by a research group in Taiwan. The new computer-simulation findings may help future researchers to choose when to use the new method of analyzing how and where particular molecules are distributed throughout the surface layers of ultra-thin materials.

Molecular depth profiling modeled with buckyballs and argon

Philadelphia, PA | Posted on October 11th, 2011

Team leader Barbara Garrison, the Shapiro Professor of Chemistry and the head of the Department of Chemistry at Penn State University, explained that bombarding a material with buckyballs—hollow molecules composed of 60 carbon atoms that are formed into a spherical shape resembling a soccer ball—is an effective means of molecular depth profiling. The name, "buckyball," is an homage to an early twentieth-century American engineer, Buckminster Fuller, whose design of a geodesic dome very closely resembles the soccer-ball-shaped 60-carbon molecule.

"Researchers figured out a few years ago that buckyballs could be used to profile molecular-scale depths very effectively," Garrison explained. "Buckyballs are much bigger and chunkier than the spacing between the molecules at the surface of the material being studied, so when the buckyballs hit the surface, they tend to break it up in a way that allows us to peer inside the solid and to actually see which molecules are arranged where. We can see, for example, that one layer is composed of one kind of molecule and the next layer is composed of another kind of molecule, similar to the way a meteor creates a crater that exposes sub-surface layers of rock."

Garrison and her colleagues decided to use computer modeling to test the effectiveness of an alternative approach that another research group had been using. The other group had used not only large, high-energy buckyballs to bombard a surface, but also another smaller, low-energy chemical element—argon—in the process. "In our computer simulations, we modeled the bombardment of surfaces first with high-energy buckyballs and then later, with low-energy argon atoms," Garrison said.

Garrison's group found that, with buckyball bombardment alone at grazing angles, the end result is a very rough surface with many troughs and ridges in one direction.

"In many instances, this approach works out well for depth profiling. However, in other instances, using buckyballs alone makes for a bumpy surface on which to perform molecular depth profiling because the molecules can be distributed unevenly throughout the peaks and valleys," Garrison explained. "In these instances, when low-energy argon bombardment is added to the process, the result is a much more even, smoother surface, which, in turn, makes for a better area on which to do analyses of molecular arrangement. In these cases, researchers can get a clearer picture of the many layers of molecules and exactly which molecules make up each layer."

However, Garrison's team also concluded that the argon must be low enough in energy in order to avoid further damage of the molecules that are being profiled.

"According to our simulations, the bottom line is that the buckyball conditions that the other research group used are not the best for depth profiling; thus, co-bombardment with low-energy argon assisted the process," Garrison said. "That is, the co-bombardment method works only in some very specific instances. We do not think low-energy argon will help in instances where the buckyballs are at sufficiently high energies." Garrison added that previous researchers had tried using smaller, simpler atomic projectiles at high, rather than low energies, but these projectiles tended to simply penetrate deeply into the surface, without giving scientists a clear view into the arrangement and identity of the molecules beneath.

Garrison said that molecular depth profiling is a crucial aspect of many chemical experiments and its applications are far-reaching. For example, molecular depth profiling is one way to get around the challenges of working with something so small and intricate as a biological cell. A cell is composed of thin layers of distinct materials, but it is difficult to slice into something so tiny to analyze the composition of those super-fine layers. In addition, molecular depth profiling can be used to analyze other kinds of human tissue, such as brain tissue—a process that could help researchers to understand neurological disease and injury. In the future, molecular depth profiling also could be used to study nanoparticles—extremely small objects with dimensions of between 1 and 10 nanometers, visible only with an electron microscope. Because nanoparticles already are being used experimentally as drug-delivery systems, a detailed analysis of their properties using molecular depth profiling could help researchers to test the effectiveness of the drug-delivery systems.

In addition to Garrison, other members of the research team include Zachary J. Schiffer, a high-school student at the State College Area High School near the Penn State University Park campus, Paul E. Kennedy of Penn State's Department of Chemistry, and Zbigniew Postawa of the Smoluchowski Institute of Physics at Jagiellonian University in Poland.

####

For more information, please click here

Copyright © Penn State University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

Molecular Dynamics Simulations Elucidate the Synergy of C60 and Low-Energy Ar Cobombardment for Molecular Depth Profiling

Related News Press

News and information

Nano-kirigami: 'Paper-cut' provides model for 3D intelligent nanofabrication July 13th, 2018

UMBC researchers develop nanoparticles to reduce internal bleeding caused by blast trauma July 13th, 2018

Leti and Oscaro Partner on Leti’s New Low-Power, Low-Cost Transceiver to Track Parcels July 12th, 2018

Oxford Instruments’ 22 Tesla superconducting magnet system commissioned at the UAM, making it the most intense magnetic field available outside a large international facility July 12th, 2018

Nanotubes/Buckyballs/Fullerenes/Nanorods

Carbon is the new black: Researchers use carbon nanotubes to develop clothing that can double as batteries July 10th, 2018

Nano-saturn: Supramolecular complex formation: Anthracene macrocycle and C60 fullerene June 8th, 2018

Unzipping graphene nanotubes into nanoribbons: New study shows elegant mathematical solution to understand how the flow of electrons changes when carbon nanotubes turn into zigzag nanoribbons June 6th, 2018

Making carbon nanotubes as usable as common plastics: Researchers discover that cresols disperse carbon nanotubes at unprecedentedly high concentrations May 15th, 2018

Discoveries

Nano-kirigami: 'Paper-cut' provides model for 3D intelligent nanofabrication July 13th, 2018

UMBC researchers develop nanoparticles to reduce internal bleeding caused by blast trauma July 13th, 2018

Barium ruthenate: A high-yield, easy-to-handle perovskite catalyst for the oxidation of sulfides July 13th, 2018

Researchers identify cost-cutting option in treating nail fungus with nanotechnology: GW researcher Adam Friedman, M.D., studied the potential use of nitric oxide-releasing nanoparticles to improve onychomycosis treatment July 11th, 2018

Announcements

Nano-kirigami: 'Paper-cut' provides model for 3D intelligent nanofabrication July 13th, 2018

UMBC researchers develop nanoparticles to reduce internal bleeding caused by blast trauma July 13th, 2018

Barium ruthenate: A high-yield, easy-to-handle perovskite catalyst for the oxidation of sulfides July 13th, 2018

Leti and Oscaro Partner on Leti’s New Low-Power, Low-Cost Transceiver to Track Parcels July 12th, 2018

Research partnerships

Nano-kirigami: 'Paper-cut' provides model for 3D intelligent nanofabrication July 13th, 2018

Leti and Soitec Launch a New Substrate Innovation Center to Develop Engineered Substrate Solutions: Industry-inclusive hub promotes early collaboration and learning from substrate to system level July 11th, 2018

Leti & Partners Launch Pilot Program to Assess New Perception Sensors for Autonomous Vehicles July 5th, 2018

A refined magnetic sense: Algorithms and hardware developed in the context of quantum computation are shown to be useful for quantum-enhanced sensing of magnetic fields July 2nd, 2018

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project