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Nat Commun ; 11(1): 1097, 2020 02 27.
Artículo en Inglés | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-32107369


Manipulating the surface energy, and thereby the wetting properties of solids, has promise for various physical, chemical, biological and industrial processes. Typically, this is achieved by either chemical modification or by controlling the hierarchical structures of surfaces. Here we report a phenomenon whereby the wetting properties of vermiculite laminates are controlled by the hydrated cations on the surface and in the interlamellar space. We find that vermiculite laminates can be tuned from superhydrophilic to hydrophobic simply by exchanging the cations; hydrophilicity decreases with increasing cation hydration free energy, except for lithium. The lithium-exchanged vermiculite laminate is found to provide a superhydrophilic surface due to its anomalous hydrated structure at the vermiculite surface. Building on these findings, we demonstrate the potential application of superhydrophilic lithium exchanged vermiculite as a thin coating layer on microfiltration membranes to resist fouling, and thus, we address a major challenge for oil-water separation technology.

Ultramicroscopy ; 176: 46-51, 2017 05.
Artículo en Inglés | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-27932032


In situ analytical transmission electron microscopy (TEM) can provide a unique perspective on dynamic reactions in a variety of environments, including liquids and gases. In this study, in situ analytical TEM techniques have been applied to examine the localised oxidation reactions that occur in a Ni-Cr-Fe alloy, Alloy 600, using a gas environmental cell at elevated temperatures. The initial stages of preferential intergranular oxidation, shown to be an important precursor phenomenon for intergranular stress corrosion cracking in pressurized water reactors (PWRs), have been successfully identified using the in situ approach. Furthermore, the detailed observations correspond to the ex situ results obtained from bulk specimens tested in hydrogenated steam and in high temperature PWR primary water. The excellent agreement between the in situ and ex situ oxidation studies demonstrates that this approach can be used to investigate the initial stages of preferential intergranular oxidation relevant to nuclear power systems.

Nat Commun ; 7: 12168, 2016 07 07.
Artículo en Inglés | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-27385262


Van der Waals assembly of two-dimensional crystals continue attract intense interest due to the prospect of designing novel materials with on-demand properties. One of the unique features of this technology is the possibility of trapping molecules between two-dimensional crystals. The trapped molecules are predicted to experience pressures as high as 1 GPa. Here we report measurements of this interfacial pressure by capturing pressure-sensitive molecules and studying their structural and conformational changes. Pressures of 1.2±0.3 GPa are found using Raman spectrometry for molecular layers of 1-nm in thickness. We further show that this pressure can induce chemical reactions, and several trapped salts are found to react with water at room temperature, leading to two-dimensional crystals of the corresponding oxides. This pressure and its effect should be taken into account in studies of van der Waals heterostructures and can also be exploited to modify materials confined at the atomic interfaces.

Nano Lett ; 15(8): 4914-21, 2015 Aug 12.
Artículo en Inglés | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-26132110


Many layered materials can be cleaved down to individual atomic planes, similar to graphene, but only a small minority of them are stable under ambient conditions. The rest react and decompose in air, which has severely hindered their investigation and potential applications. Here we introduce a remedial approach based on cleavage, transfer, alignment, and encapsulation of air-sensitive crystals, all inside a controlled inert atmosphere. To illustrate the technology, we choose two archetypal two-dimensional crystals that are of intense scientific interest but are unstable in air: black phosphorus and niobium diselenide. Our field-effect devices made from their monolayers are conductive and fully stable under ambient conditions, which is in contrast to the counterparts processed in air. NbSe2 remains superconducting down to the monolayer thickness. Starting with a trilayer, phosphorene devices reach sufficiently high mobilities to exhibit Landau quantization. The approach offers a venue to significantly expand the range of experimentally accessible two-dimensional crystals and their heterostructures.

Nanoscale ; 6(22): 13598-605, 2014 Nov 21.
Artículo en Inglés | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-25271696


We report the controlled alloying, oxidation, and subsequent reduction of individual AgAu nanoparticles in the scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM). Through sequential application of electron beam induced oxidation and in situ heating and quenching, we demonstrate the transformation of Ag-Au core-shell nanoparticles into: AgAu alloyed, Au-Ag core-shell, hollow Au-Ag2O core-shell, and Au-Ag2O yolk-shell nanoparticles. We are able to directly image these morphological transformations in real-time at atomic resolution and perform energy dispersive X-ray (EDX) spectrum imaging to map changing elemental distributions with sub-nanometre resolution. By combining aberration corrected STEM imaging and high efficiency EDX spectroscopy we are able to quantify not only the growth and coalescence of Kirkendall voids during oxidation but also the compositional changes occurring during this reaction. This is the first time that it has been possible to track the changing distribution of elements in an individual nanoparticle undergoing oxidation driven shell growth and hollowing.

Phys Rev Lett ; 109(10): 106603, 2012 Sep 07.
Artículo en Inglés | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-23005314


Electrical spin injection into semiconductors paves the way for exploring new phenomena in the area of spin physics and new generations of spintronic devices. However the exact role of interface states in the spin injection mechanism from a magnetic tunnel junction into a semiconductor is still under debate. In this Letter, we demonstrate a clear transition from spin accumulation into interface states to spin injection in the conduction band of n-Ge. We observe spin signal amplification at low temperature due to spin accumulation into interface states followed by a clear transition towards spin injection in the conduction band from 200 K up to room temperature. In this regime, the spin signal is reduced to a value compatible with the spin diffusion model. More interestingly, the observation in this regime of inverse spin Hall effect in germanium generated by spin pumping and the modulation of the spin signal by a gate voltage clearly demonstrate spin accumulation in the germanium conduction band.