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Concept: Quartz


The morphological change of silicon macropore arrays formed by metal-assisted chemical etching using shape-controlled Au thin film arrays was investigated during anisotropic chemical etching in tetramethylammonium hydroxide (TMAH) aqueous solution. After the deposition of Au as the etching catalyst on (111) silicon through a honeycomb mask prepared by sphere lithography, the specimens were etched in a mixed solution of HF and H2O2 at room temperature, resulting in the formation of ordered macropores in silicon along the [111] direction, which is not achievable by conventional chemical etching without a catalyst. In the anisotropic etching in TMAH, the macropores changed from being circular to being hexagonal and finally to being triangular, owing to the difference in etching rate between the crystal planes.

Concepts: Concentration, Chemistry, Solubility, Solutions, Quartz, Photolithography, Etching, Tetramethylammonium hydroxide


BACKGROUND: Cigarette smoking is a cause of a variety of serious diseases, and to understand the toxicological impact of tobacco smoke in vitro, whole smoke exposure systems can be used. One of the main challenges of the different whole smoke exposure systems that are commercially available is that they dilute and deliver smoke in different ways, limiting/restricting the cross-comparison of biological responses. This is where dosimetry – dose quantification – can play a key role in data comparison. Quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) technology has been put forward as one such tool to quantify smoke particle deposition in vitro, in real-time. RESULTS: Using four identical QCMs, installed into the Vitrocell® mammalian 6/4 CF Stainless exposure module, we were able to quantify deposited smoke particle deposition, generated and diluted by a Vitrocell® VC 10 Smoking Robot. At diluting airflows 0.5-4.0 L/min and vacuum flow rate 5 ml/min/well through the exposure module, mean particle deposition was in the range 8.65 +/- 1.51 mug/cm2-0.72 +/- 0.13 mug/cm2. Additionally, the effect of varying vacuum flow rate on particle deposition was assessed from 5 ml/min/well - 100 ml/min/well. Mean deposited mass for all four airflows tested per vacuum decreased as vacuum rate was increased: mean deposition was 3.79, 2.75, 1.56 and 1.09 mug/cm2 at vacuum rates of 5, 10, 50 and 100 ml/min/well respectively. CONCLUSIONS: QCMs within the Vitrocell® exposure module have demonstrated applicability at defining particle dose ranges at various experimental conditions. This tool will prove useful for users of the Vitrocell® system for dose–response determination and QC purposes.

Concepts: Smoking, Tobacco, Tobacco smoking, Cigarette, Nicotine, Quartz, Quartz crystal microbalance


Tridymite, a low-pressure, high-temperature (>870 °C) SiO2 polymorph, was detected in a drill sample of laminated mudstone (Buckskin) at Marias Pass in Gale crater, Mars, by the Chemistry and Mineralogy X-ray diffraction instrument onboard the Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity The tridymitic mudstone has ∼40 wt.% crystalline and ∼60 wt.% X-ray amorphous material and a bulk composition with ∼74 wt.% SiO2 (Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer analysis). Plagioclase (∼17 wt.% of bulk sample), tridymite (∼14 wt.%), sanidine (∼3 wt.%), cation-deficient magnetite (∼3 wt.%), cristobalite (∼2 wt.%), and anhydrite (∼1 wt.%) are the mudstone crystalline minerals. Amorphous material is silica-rich (∼39 wt.% opal-A and/or high-SiO2 glass and opal-CT), volatile-bearing (16 wt.% mixed cation sulfates, phosphates, and chlorides-perchlorates-chlorates), and has minor TiO2 and Fe2O3T oxides (∼5 wt.%). Rietveld refinement yielded a monoclinic structural model for a well-crystalline tridymite, consistent with high formation temperatures. Terrestrial tridymite is commonly associated with silicic volcanism, and detritus from such volcanism in a “Lake Gale” catchment environment can account for Buckskin’s tridymite, cristobalite, feldspar, and any residual high-SiO2 glass. These cogenetic detrital phases are possibly sourced from the Gale crater wall/rim/central peak. Opaline silica could form during diagenesis from high-SiO2 glass, as amorphous precipitated silica, or as a residue of acidic leaching in the sediment source region or at Marias Pass. The amorphous mixed-cation salts and oxides and possibly the crystalline magnetite (otherwise detrital) are primary precipitates and/or their diagenesis products derived from multiple infiltrations of aqueous solutions having variable compositions, temperatures, and acidities. Anhydrite is post lithification fracture/vein fill.

Concepts: Crystallography, Chemistry, Sedimentary rock, Mineral, Solid, Quartz, Silicon dioxide, Amorphous solid


Quartz is a common phase in high-silica igneous rocks and is resistant to post-eruptive alteration, thus offering a reliable record of magmatic processes in silicic magma systems. Here we employ the 75 ka Toba super-eruption as a case study to show that quartz can resolve late-stage temporal changes in magmatic δ(18)O values. Overall, Toba quartz crystals exhibit comparatively high δ(18)O values, up to 10.2‰, due to magma residence within, and assimilation of, local granite basement. However, some 40% of the analysed quartz crystals display a decrease in δ(18)O values in outermost growth zones compared to their cores, with values as low as 6.7‰ (maximum ∆core-rim = 1.8‰). These lower values are consistent with the limited zircon record available for Toba, and the crystallisation history of Toba quartz traces an influx of a low-δ(18)O component into the magma reservoir just prior to eruption. Here we argue that this late-stage low-δ(18)O component is derived from hydrothermally-altered roof material. Our study demonstrates that quartz isotope stratigraphy can resolve magmatic events that may remain undetected by whole-rock or zircon isotope studies, and that assimilation of altered roof material may represent a viable eruption trigger in large Toba-style magmatic systems.

Concepts: Igneous rock, Rock, Quartz, Petrology, Magma, Basalt, Granite, Pegmatite


The influence of shape on nanomaterial aggregation and deposition was systematically studied with poly-acrylic acid (PAA) coated uniform-sized gold nanospheres (AuNSs) and nanorods (AuNRs). Time resolved dynamic light scattering was employed to study their aggregation kinetics in a wide range of mono- and di-valent electrolyte conditions. Results indicated that PAA coated AuNSs have higher aggregation propensity compared to anisotropic PAA coated AuNRs, as observed through critical coagulation concentration (CCC). The CCC values were estimated as 50mM NaCl and 1.8mM CaCl(2) for AuNS, which showed substantial increase to 250mM NaCl and 7mM CaCl(2) for anisotropic AuNRs. Though electrokinetic behavior showed similar surface potential for the spherical and rod-shaped materials, the geometric differences between the samples have likely resulted in unique conformation of the PAA coatings, leading to different magnitudes of steric hindrances and hence yielding the observed aggregation behavior. The deposition kinetics was monitored using the quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation technique. AuNRs showed relatively slower deposition compared to AuNSs for low electrolytes concentrations. With the increase in electrolyte concentration, the differences in deposition rates between spheres and rods diminished. The results from this study showed that the shape of nanomaterials can influence interfacial properties and result in unique aggregation and deposition behavior under typical aquatic conditions.

Concepts: Nanoparticle, Electrochemistry, Nanotechnology, Nanomaterials, Electrolyte, Quartz, Light scattering, Dynamic light scattering


Understanding the kinetics of dye adsorption and desorption on semiconductors is crucial for optimizing the performance of dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs). Quartz Crystal Microbalance with Dissipation Monitoring (QCM-D) measures adsorbed mass in real time, allowing determination of binding kinetics. In this work, we characterize adsorption of the common RuBipy dye, “N3,” to the native oxide layer of a planar, sputter-coated titanium surface, simulating the TiO2 substrate of a DSSC. We report adsorption equilibrium constants consistent with prior optical measurements of N3 adsorption. Dye binding and surface integrity were also verified by SEM, EDX, and XPS. We further study desorption of the dye from the native oxide layer on the QCM sensors using tetrabutylammonium hydroxide (TBAOH), a commonly used industrial desorbant. We find that using TBAOH as a desorbant does not fully regenerate the surface, though little ruthenium or nitrogen is observed by XPS after desorption, suggesting that carboxyl moieties of N3 remain bound. We demonstrate the native oxide layer of a titanium sensor as a valid and readily available planar TiO2 morphology to study dye adsorption and desorption, and begin to investigate the mechanism of dye desorption in DSSCs, a system that requires further study.

Concepts: Adsorption, Oxide, Solar cell, Titanium dioxide, Dye-sensitized solar cell, Quartz, Quartz crystal microbalance, Rutile


The extent of protein adsorption is an important consideration for the biocompatibility of biomaterials. Various experimental methods can be used to determine the quantity of protein adsorbed, but the results usually differ. In the present work, self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) were used to prepare a series of model gold surfaces varying systematically in water wettability, from hydrophilic to hydrophobic. Three commonly used methods, namely, surface plasmon resonance (SPR), quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation (QCM-D) and 125I-radiolabeling, were employed to quantify fibrinogen (Fg) adsorption on these surfaces. This approach allows a direct comparison of the mass of Fg adsorbed using these three techniques. The results from all three methods showed that protein adsorption increases with increasing surface hydrophobicity. The increase in the mass of Fg adsorbed with increasing surface hydrophobicity in the SPR data was parallel to that from 125I-radiolabeling, but the absolute values were different, and there does not seem to be a “universal congruent” relationship between the two methods for surfaces with varying wettability. For QCM-D, the variation in protein adsorption with wettability was different from that for SPR and radiolabeling. On the more hydrophobic surfaces, QCM-D gave adsorbed mass much higher than the two other methods, possibly because QCM-D measures both the adsorbed Fg and its associated water. However, on the more hydrophilic surfaces, the adsorbed mass from QCM-D was slightly greater than from SPR, and both were smaller than from 125I-radiolabeling; this was true whether the Sauerbrey equation or the Voigt model was used to convert QCM-D data to adsorbed mass.

Concepts: Adsorption, Surface plasmon resonance, Quartz, Quartz crystal microbalance, Plasmon


Silicon (Si) is the most abundant element present in the Earth’s crust besides oxygen. However, the exact biological roles of silicon remain unknown. Moreover, the ortho-silicic acid (H4SiO4), as a major form of bioavailable silicon for both humans and animals, has not been given adequate attention so far. Silicon has already been associated with bone mineralization, collagen synthesis, skin, hair and nails health atherosclerosis, Alzheimer disease, immune system enhancement, and with some other disorders or pharmacological effects. Beside the ortho-silicic acid and its stabilized formulations such as choline chloride-stabilized ortho-silicic acid and sodium or potassium silicates (e.g. M2SiO3; M= Na,K), the most important sources that release ortho-silicic acid as a bioavailable form of silicon are: colloidal silicic acid (hydrated silica gel), silica gel (amorphous silicon dioxide), and zeolites. Although all these compounds are characterized by substantial water insolubility, they release small, but significant, equilibrium concentration of ortho-silicic acid (H4SiO4) in contact with water and physiological fluids. Even though certain pharmacological effects of these compounds might be attributed to specific structural characteristics that result in profound adsorption and absorption properties, they all exhibit similar pharmacological profiles readily comparable to ortho-silicic acid effects. The most unusual ortho-silicic acid-releasing agents are certain types of zeolites, a class of aluminosilicates with well described ion(cation)-exchange properties. Numerous biological activities of some types of zeolites documented so far might probably be attributable to the ortho-silicic acid-releasing property. In this review, we therefore discuss biological and potential therapeutic effects of ortho-silicic acid and ortho-silicic acid -releasing silicon compounds as its major natural sources.

Concepts: Oxygen, Chemical element, Carbon, Silicon, Quartz, Silicon dioxide, Silicic acid, Silicate


The control of electromechanical responses within bonding regions is essential to face frontier challenges in nanotechnologies, such as molecular electronics and biotechnology. Here, we present Iβ-nanocellulose as a potentially new orthotropic 2D piezoelectric crystal. The predicted in-layer piezoelectricity is originated on a sui-generis hydrogen bonds pattern. Upon this fact and by using a combination of ab-initio and ad-hoc models, we introduce a description of electrical profiles along chemical bonds. Such developments lead to obtain a rationale for modelling the extended piezoelectric effect originated within bond scales. The order of magnitude estimated for the 2D Iβ-nanocellulose piezoelectric response, ~pm V(-1), ranks this material at the level of currently used piezoelectric energy generators and new artificial 2D designs. Such finding would be crucial for developing alternative materials to drive emerging nanotechnologies.

Concepts: Oxygen, Crystal, Molecule, Atom, Quartz, Piezoelectricity, Energy harvesting


Oxide-based two-terminal resistive random access memory (RRAM) is considered one of the most promising candidates for next-generation nonvolatile memory. We introduce here a new RRAM memory structure employing a nanoporous (NP) silicon oxide (SiOx) material which enables unipolar switching through its internal vertical-nanogap. Through the control of the stochastic filament formation at low voltage, the NP SiOx memory exhibited extremely low electroforming voltage (~ 1.6 V) and outstanding performance metrics. These include multi-bit storage ability (up to 9-bits), high ON-OFF ratio (up to 10(7) A), long high-temperature lifetime (≥ 10(4) s at 100 °C), excellent cycling endurance (≥ 10(5)), sub-50 ns switching speeds, and low power consumption (~ 6 x 10(-5) W/bit). Also provided is room temperature processability for versatile fabrication without any compliance current being needed during electroforming or switching operations. Taken together, these metrics in NP SiOx RRAM provide a route toward easily accessed nonvolatile memory applications.

Concepts: Oxygen, Oxide, Silicon, Quartz, Silicon dioxide, Non-volatile memory, Computer data storage, Computer memory