Although there are many methods of fabricating nanofibres, electrospinning is perhaps the most versatile process. Materials such as polymer, composites, ceramic and metal nanofibres have been fabricated using electrospinning directly or through post-spinning processes. However, what makes electrospinning different from other nanofibre fabrication processes is its ability to form various fibre assemblies. This will certainly enhance the performance of products made from nanofibres and allow application specific modifications. It is therefore vital for us to understand the various parameters and processes that allow us to fabricate the desired fibre assemblies. Fibre assemblies that can be fabricated include nonwoven fibre mesh, aligned fibre mesh, patterned fibre mesh, random three-dimensional structures and sub-micron spring and convoluted fibres. Nevertheless, more studies are required to understand and precisely control the actual mechanics in the formation of various electrospun fibrous assemblies.
C-axis vertically aligned ZnO nanorod arrays were synthesized on a ZnO thin film through a simple hydrothermal route. The nanorods have a diameter of 30-100 nm and a length of about several hundred nanometres. The gas sensor fabricated from ZnO nanorod arrays showed a high sensitivity to H-2 from room temperature to a maximum sensitivity at 250 degrees C and a detection limit of 20 ppm. In addition, the ZnO gas sensor also exhibited excellent responses to NH3 and CO exposure. Our results demonstrate that the hydrothermally grown vertically aligned ZnO nanorod arrays are very promising for the fabrication of cost effective and high performance gas sensors.
ZnO nanowires, grown on transparent conducting oxide substrates from aqueous solutions of methenamine and Zn(NO3)(2), were integrated as the wide band gap semiconductor into dye-sensitized solar cells. ZnO nanowires and their growth mechanisms were studied using electron microscopy, x-ray diffraction and photoluminescence measurements. The solution growth method forms dense arrays of long nanowires oriented normal to the substrate surface because nanowires growing at off-normal angles are prevented from growing further when they run into neighbouring wires. Dye-sensitized solar cells with ZnO nanowires were assembled and characterized using optical and electrical measurements. Short circuit current densities of 1.3 mA cm(-2), and overall power conversion efficiencies of 0.3% were achieved with 8 mu m long nanowires. Photocurrent and efficiency increase with increasing nanowire length and improved light harvesting. Low surface area and a shunt that appears under light illumination limit the solar cell performance. Internal quantum efficiencies were similar for nanowires of all lengths, indicating that electron transport is not limited by the nanowire dimensions for aspect ratios less than 70.
Zinc oxide-soluble starch nanocomposites (nano-ZnO) synthesized using water as a solvent and soluble starch as a stabilizer is impregnated onto cotton fabrics to impart antibacterial and UV-protection functions. Nano-ZnO synthesized by reacting zinc nitrate with sodium hydroxide in the presence of soluble starch absorbed strongly at 361 nm due to the quantum confinement effect. The average size of ZnO nanoparticles is estimated to be 38 +/- 3 nm using a transmission electron microscope (TEM); this was confirmed by x-ray diffraction analysis and the effective mass approximation method. The starch content in synthesized nano-ZnO was estimated to be 37.57% using thermo-gravimetric analysis. The nano-ZnO impregnated cotton fabrics showed excellent antibacterial activity against two representative bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus ( Gram positive) and Klebsiella pneumoniae ( Gram negative). Also, nano-ZnO impregnation enhanced the protection of cotton fabrics against UV radiation in comparison with the untreated cotton fabrics.
Superhydrophobic surfaces have considerable technological potential for various applications due to their extreme water-repellent properties. A number of studies have been carried out to produce artificial biomimetic roughness-induced hydrophobic surfaces. It is not clear whether microstructures or nanostructures or their certain combination on the surface, are required for superhydrophobicity. A variety of micro- and nanopatterned surfaces of two different polymers, poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) and polystyrene (PS), were fabricated. We show how static contact angles vary with micro- and nanopatterns on the polymer surfaces. Based on the experimental data and a numerical model, the trends are explained. Tribological properties play an important role in many applications requiring water-repellent properties. Therefore, it is important to study the adhesion and friction properties of these surfaces that mimic nature. An atomic/friction force microscope (AFM/FFM) was used for surface characterization and adhesion and friction measurements. To further examine the effect of meniscus force and real area of contact, scale dependence is considered with the use of AFM tips of various radii. The effect of relative humidity is also investigated to study the environmental effects on adhesion and friction.
A highly ordered array of micron-length undoped titania nanotubes exhibits an unprecedented variation in electrical resistance of about 8.7 orders of magnitude (50 000 000 000%), at room temperature, when exposed to alternating atmospheres of nitrogen containing 1000 ppm hydrogen and air. This represents the largest known change in electrical properties of any material, to any gas, at any temperature. The nanotube arrays were fabricated using anodic oxidation of titanium foil in a pH 4.0 electrolyte containing potassium fluoride, sodium hydrogen sulfate monohydrate and sodium citrate tribasic dihydrate. The dramatic change in resistance is believed to be due to the highly active surface states on the nanoscale walls of the tubes, high surface area of the nanotube architecture, and the well-ordered geometry allowing for hydrogen-sensitive tube-to-tube electrical connections.
Recently, several groups (Anderson, Halas, Zharov, and their co-workers, 2003; El-Sayed and co-workers, 2006) demonstrated, through pioneering results, the great potential of photothermal ( PT) therapy for the selective treatment of cancer cells, bacteria, viruses, and DNA targeted with gold nanospheres, nanoshells, nanorods, and nanosphere clusters. However, the current understanding of the relationship between the nanoparticle/cluster parameters (size, shape, particle/cluster structure, etc) and the efficiency of PT therapy is limited. Here, we report theoretical simulations aimed at finding the optimal single-particle and cluster structures to achieve its maximal absorption, which is crucial for PT therapeutic effects. To characterize the optical amplification in laser-induced thermal effects, we introduce relevant parameters such as the ratio of the absorption cross section to the gold mass of a single-particle structure and absorption amplification, defined as the ratio of cluster absorption to the total absorption of non-interacting particles. We consider the absorption efficiency of single nanoparticles (gold spheres, rods, and silica/gold nanoshells), linear chains, 2D lattice arrays, 3D random volume clusters, and the random aggregated N-particle ensembles on the outer surface of a larger dielectric sphere, which mimic aggregation of nanosphere bioconjugates on or within cancer cells. The cluster particles are bare or biopolymer-coated gold nanospheres. The light absorption of cluster structures is studied by using the generalized multiparticle Mie solution and the T-matrix method. The gold nanoshells with (silica core diameter)/(gold shell thickness) parameters of (50-100)/(3-8) nm and nanorods with minor/major sizes of (15-20)/(50-70) nm are shown to be more efficient PT labels and sensitizers than the equivolume solid single gold spheres. In the case of nanosphere clusters, the interparticle separations and the short linear-chain fragments are the main structural parameters determining the absorption efficiency and its spectral shifting to the red. Although we have not found a noticeable dependence of absorption amplification on the cluster sphere size, 20-40 nm particles are found to be most effective, in accordance with our experimental observations. The long-wavelength absorption efficiency of random clusters increases with the cluster particle number N at small N and reveals a saturation behaviour at N > 20.
Carbon nanotube thin films have been successfully fabricated by the electrophoretic deposition technique. The supercapacitors built from such thin film electrodes have a very small equivalent series resistance, and a high specific power density over 20 kW kg(-1) was thus obtained. More importantly, the supercapacitors showed superior frequency response. Our study also demonstrated that these carbon nanotube thin films can serve as coating layers over ordinary current collectors to drastically enhance the electrode performance, indicating a huge potential in supercapacitor and battery manufacturing.
Upconverting materials, which can be efficiently excited by near infrared light and emit strong visible light through a process termed 'upconversion fluorescence', have shown great potential for use in biological labelling and imaging. Some upconverting nanoparticles such as NaYF4 doped with lanthanide ions have been synthesized; however, these nanoparticles are not soluble in water, not biocompatible and do not have functional chemical groups for conjugation of biomolecules, and as a result their bioapplications are very limited unless some surface modifications are performed. Here we report a method for one-pot synthesis of polyethylenimine/NaYF4 nanoparticles doped with lanthanide ions, which are water soluble and biocompatible. The amino groups of polyethylenimine existing on the nanoparticles can be used for attachment of biomolecules. The nanoparticles showed a spherical shape with an average size of about 50 nm. Different lanthanide ions (Yb3+, Er3+ and Tm3+) were doped into the nanoparticles, which showed strong upconversion fluorescence of different colours in aqueous solutions under excitation at 980 nm.
Backside illuminated solar cells based on 6 mu m long highly-ordered nanotube-array films sensitized by a self-assembled monolayer of bis(tetrabutylammonium)-cis-(dithiocyanato)-N,N'-bis(4-carboxylato-4'- carboxylic acid-2,2'-bipyridine)ruthenium(II) (commonly called 'N719') show a short-circuit current density of 8.79 mA cm(-2), 841 mV open circuit potential and a 0.57 fill factor yielding a power conversion efficiency of 4.24% under AM 1.5 sun. The solvent used to infiltrate the dye into the nanotube arrays, made by potentiostatic anodization of a titanium foil, was found to significantly influence the electrical characteristics of the resulting solar cell. A superior photoresponse was obtained with acetonitrile as the dye solvent. This is attributed to the improved wetting characteristics of the dye solution in acetonitrile enabling self-assembled monolayers with higher surface coverage to be formed inside the nanotubes. In comparison to nanocrystalline films, the nanotube-array films consistently exhibit larger open circuit photovoltage values; the origins of this enhancement are discussed.
Magnetite nanoparticles (Fe3O4) of three different sizes below the limit for single domain magnetic behaviour have been obtained by thermal decomposition of an iron precursor in an organic medium in the presence of a surfactant. Good agreement between mean particle size obtained by TEM, crystal size calculated from x-ray diffraction and magnetic diameter calculated from magnetization curves measured at room temperature shows that the samples consist of uniform, crystalline and isolated magnetite nanoparticles with sizes between 5 and 11 nm. High saturation magnetization and high initial susceptibility values have been found, the latter decreasing as the particle size decreases. The main contribution to the anisotropy is magnetocrystalline and shape anisotropy, since surface anisotropy is suppressed by the oleic acid molecules which are covalently bonded to the nanoparticle surface.
When rain falls on lotus leaves water beads up with a high contact angle. The water drops promptly roll off the leaves, collecting dirt along the way. This self-cleaning ability or lotus effect has, in recent years, stimulated much research effort worldwide for a variety of applications ranging from self-cleaning window glasses, paints, and fabrics to low friction surfaces. What are the mechanisms giving rise to the lotus effect? Although chemical composition and surface structure are believed important, a systematic experimental investigation of their effects is still lacking. By altering the surface structure of the leaves while keeping their chemical composition approximately the same, we report in this study the influence of micro- and nano-scale structures on the wetting behaviour of lotus leaves. The findings of this work may help design self-cleaning surfaces and improve our understanding of wetting mechanisms.
Mats of PVA nanofibres were successfully prepared by the electrospinning process and were developed as carriers of drugs for a transdermal drug delivery system. Four types of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug with varying water solubility property, i.e. sodium salicylate (freely soluble in water), diclofenac sodium (sparingly soluble in water), naproxen (NAP), and indomethacin (IND) (both insoluble in water), were selected as model drugs. The morphological appearance of the drug-loaded electrospun PVA mats depended on the nature of the model drugs. The H-1-nuclear magnetic resonance results confirmed that the electrospinning process did not affect the chemical integrity of the drugs. Thermal properties of the drug-loaded electrospun PVA mats were analysed by differential scanning calorimetry and thermogravimetric analysis. The molecular weight of the model drugs played a major role on both the rate and the total amount of drugs released from the as-prepared drug-loaded electrospun PVA mats, with the rate and the total amount of the drugs released decreasing with increasing molecular weight of the drugs. Lastly, the drug-loaded electrospun PVA mats exhibited much better release characteristics of the model drugs than drug-loaded as-cast films.
CuO nanocrystals with different shapes, i.e. irregular nanoparticles, nanobelts and nanoplatelets, have been synthesized by controlling a few critical synthesis parameters to explore their catalytic properties. It was found that the rate of CO oxidation on the nanoplatelets is over six times higher than that on the nanoparticles and about three times higher than that on the nanobelts at 110 degrees C. Based on combined characterizations, such as BET, XRD, TEM, HRTEM and CO temperature-programmed reduction, the relationship between the catalytic reactivity and the shape as well as the predominantly exposed crystal planes of the CuO nanocrystals has been discussed.
ZnO nano-rods are prepared by one-step solid-state reaction of zinc acetate dihydrate, sodium hydroxide and cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (CTAB) at room temperature. The samples are characterized by x-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The gas-sensing properties of the prepared material have been investigated. The results indicate that the as-prepared ZnO nano-rods are uniform with diameters of 10-30 nm and lengths of about 150-250 nm. The relatively high sensor signal and stability of sensors made from ZnO nano-rods demonstrate the potential for developing a new class of sensitive sensors.
This paper presents a continuum mechanics approach to modelling the elastic deformation of finite graphene sheets based on Brenner's potential. The potential energy of the graphene sheet is minimized for determining the equilibrium configuration. The four edges of the initially rectangular graphene sheet become Curved at the equilibrium configuration. The curving of the sides is attributed to smaller coordination number for the atoms at the edges compared to that of the interior atoms. Considering two graphene models, with only two or all four edges constrained to be straight, the continuum Young's moduli of graphene are computed applying the Cauchy-Born rule. The cornputed elastic constants of the graphene sheet are found to conform to orthotropic material behaviour. The computed constants differ considerably depending on whether a minimized or unminimized configuration is used for computation.
Superhydrophobic surfaces as well as low adhesion and friction are desirable for various industrial applications. Certain plant leaves are known to be hydrophobic in nature due to their roughness and the presence of a thin wax film on the surface of the leaf. The purpose of this study is to fully characterize the leaf surfaces on the micro- and nanoscale while separating out the effects of the micro- and the nanobumps of hydrophobic leaves on the hydrophobicity. Hydrophilic leaves were also studied to better understand the role of wax and roughness. Furthermore, the adhesion and friction properties of hydrophobic and hydrophilic leaves were studied. Using an optical profiler and an atomic/friction force microscope (AFM/FFM), measurements were made to fully characterize the leaf surfaces. It is shown that the nanobumps play a more important role than the microbumps in the hydrophobic nature as well as friction of the leaf. This study will be useful in developing superhydrophobic surfaces.
A low cost nanosphere lithography method for patterning and generation of semiconductor nanostructures provides a potential alternative to the conventional top-down fabrication techniques. Forests of silicon pillars of sub-500 nm diameter and with an aspect ratio up to 10 were fabricated using a combination of the nanosphere lithography and deep reactive ion etching techniques. The nanosphere etch mask coated silicon substrates were etched using oxygen plasma and a time-multiplexed 'Bosch' process to produce nanopillars of different length, diameter and separation. Scanning electron microscopy data indicate that the silicon etch rates with the nanoscale etch masks decrease linearly with increasing aspect ratio of the resulting etch structures.
Copper nanoparticles with a mean carbon coating of about 1 nm were continuously produced at up to 10 g h(-1) using a modified flame spray synthesis unit under highly reducing conditions. Raman spectroscopy and solid state C-13 magic angle spinning nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy revealed that the thin carbon layer consisted of a sp(2)-hybridized carbon modification in the form of graphene stacks. The carbon layer protected the copper nanoparticles from oxidation in air. Bulk pills of pressed carbon/copper nanoparticles displayed a highly pressure- and temperature-dependent electrical conductivity with sensitivity at least comparable to commercial materials. These properties suggest the use of thin carbon/copper nanocomposites as novel, low-cost sensor materials and offer a metal-based alternative to the currently used brittle oxidic spinels or perovskites.
An effective functionalization method was investigated to take full advantage of the exceptional performance of both carbon nanotubes and epoxy polymer for composite application. Epoxy polymer curing agent, EPI-W, was grafted to the single-walled carbon nanotubes through diazotization. Fourier transformed infrared spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, differential scanning calorimetry, dynamical mechanical analysis and thermo-gravimetric analysis were performed to characterize the functionalization effect. The degree of functionalization was estimated to be 1 in 50 carbons in the nanotube framework. The elastic modulus of the nanocomposite was enhanced 24.6% with only 0.5 wt% loading of functionalized carbon nanotubes, in contrast to the 3.2% increase of un-functionalized carbon nanotube reinforced composite. This significant improvement suggested an effective way to realize an industrial application of nanotubes reinforcing epoxy composite.