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Journal: Nanomaterials (Basel, Switzerland)


For the last decades, nanocomposites materials have been widely studied in the scientific literature as they provide substantial properties enhancements, even at low nanoparticles content. Their performance depends on a number of parameters but the nanoparticles dispersion and distribution state remains the key challenge in order to obtain the full nanocomposites' potential in terms of, e.g., flame retardance, mechanical, barrier and thermal properties, etc., that would allow extending their use in the industry. While the amount of existing research and indeed review papers regarding the formulation of nanocomposites is already significant, after listing the most common applications, this review focuses more in-depth on the properties and materials of relevance in three target sectors: packaging, solar energy and automotive. In terms of advances in the processing of nanocomposites, this review discusses various enhancement technologies such as the use of ultrasounds for in-process nanoparticles dispersion. In the case of nanocoatings, it describes the different conventionally used processes as well as nanoparticles deposition by electro-hydrodynamic processing. All in all, this review gives the basics both in terms of composition and of processing aspects to reach optimal properties for using nanocomposites in the selected applications. As an outlook, up-to-date nanosafety issues are discussed.

Concepts: Energy, Sun, The Key, Solar energy, Solar power, Nanocomposite, Human enhancement, The Basics


The main goal of the present work is to study the coherent phonon in strongly confined CdSe quantum dots (QDs) under varied pump fluences. The main characteristics of coherent phonons (amplitude, frequency, phase, spectrogram) of CdSe QDs under the red-edge pump of the excitonic band [1S(e)-1S3/2(h)] are reported. We demonstrate for the first time that the amplitude of the coherent optical longitudinal-optical (LO) phonon at 6.16 THz excited in CdSe nanoparticles by a femtosecond unchirped pulse shows a non-monotone dependence on the pump fluence. This dependence exhibits the maximum at pump fluence ~0.8 mJ/cm². At the same time, the amplitudes of the longitudinal acoustic (LA) phonon mode at 0.55 THz and of the coherent wave packet of toluene at 15.6, 23.6 THz show a monotonic rise with the increase of pump fluence. The time frequency representation of an oscillating signal corresponding to LO phonons revealed by continuous wavelet transform (CWT) shows a profound destructive quantum interference close to the origin of distinct (optical phonon) and continuum-like (exciton) quasiparticles. The CWT spectrogram demonstrates a nonlinear chirp at short time delays, where the chirp sign depends on the pump pulse fluence. The CWT spectrogram reveals an anharmonic coupling between optical and acoustic phonons.

Concepts: Photon, Condensed matter physics, Wave, Phase, Wavelength, Sound, Phonon, Wavelet


Heavily boron-doped silicon layers and boron etch-stop techniques have been widely used in the fabrication of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). This paper provides an introduction to the fabrication process of nanoscale silicon thermoelectric devices. Low-dimensional structures such as silicon nanowire (SiNW) have been considered as a promising alternative for thermoelectric applications in order to achieve a higher thermoelectric figure of merit (ZT) than bulk silicon. Here, heavily boron-doped silicon layers and boron etch-stop processes for the fabrication of suspended SiNWs will be discussed in detail, including boron diffusion, electron beam lithography, inductively coupled plasma (ICP) etching and tetramethylammonium hydroxide (TMAH) etch-stop processes. A 7 μm long nanowire structure with a height of 280 nm and a width of 55 nm was achieved, indicating that the proposed technique is useful for nanoscale fabrication. Furthermore, a SiNW thermoelectric device has also been demonstrated, and its performance shows an obvious reduction in thermal conductivity.

Concepts: Nanotechnology, Microelectromechanical systems, Photolithography, Thermoelectric effect, Electron beam lithography, Tetramethylammonium hydroxide, Thermoelectric cooling, Dry etching


Magnesium silicate as a high-performance adsorption material has attracted increasing attention for the removal of organic dye pollution. Here, we prepared a series of magnesium silicate hydrates (MSH) in a hydrothermal route, and carefully investigated the corresponding adsorption behavior towards methylene blue (MB) as well as the effect of surface charge on adsorption capacity. The results show that surface charge plays a key role in the adsorption performance of MSH for MB, a negative surface charge density follows the increase of Si/Mg feeding ratio from 1.00 to 1.75, and furthermore the higher negative charge favors the improvement of the adsorption capacity. Among four investigated samples (MSH = 1.00, 1.25, 1.50, and 1.75), MSH-1.75 has the highest negative surface charge and shows the largest adsorption capacity for MB. For example, the equilibrium adsorption quantity is 307 mg·g−1 for MSH-1.75, which is 35% higher than that of 227 mg·g−1 for MSH-1.00. Besides, for MSH-1.75, the as-prepared sample with negative charge exhibits ca. 36% higher adsorption quantity compared to the sample at the zero point of charge (pHZPC). Furthermore, magnesium silicate hydrate material with Si/Mg feeding ratio = 1.75 demonstrates the promising removal efficiency of beyond 98% for methylene blue in 10 min, and the maximum adsorption capacity of 374 mg·g−1 calculated from the Langmuir isotherm model.

Concepts: Electric charge, Fundamental physics concepts, Density, Electrostatics, Adsorption, Surface chemistry, Charge density, Current density


Here we report a low-cost synthetic approach for the direct fabrication of large-area Au nanourchin arrays on indium tin oxide (ITO) via a facile galvanic-cell-reaction-driven deposition in an aqueous solution of chloroauric acid and poly(vinyl pyrrolidone) (PVP). The homogeneous Au nanourchins are composed of abundant sharp nanotips, which can served as nanoantennas and increase the local electromagnetic field enhancement dramatically. Finite element theoretical calculations confirm the strong electromagnetic field can be created around the sharp nanotips and located in the nanogaps between adjacent tips of the Au nanourchins. In addition, the interparticle nanogaps between the neighboring Au nanourchins may create additional hotspots, which can induce the higher electromagnetic field intensity. By using rhodamine 6G as a test molecule, the large-area Au nanourchin arrays on ITO exhibit active, uniform, and reproducible surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) effect. To trial their practical application, the Au nanourchin arrays are utilized as SERS substrates to detect 3,3’,4,4’-tetrachlorobiphenyl (PCB-77) one congener of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) as a notorious class of persistent organic pollutants. The characteristic Raman peaks can be still identified when the concentration of PCB-77 is down to 5 × 10−6 M.

Concepts: Photon, Concentration, Chemistry, Indium tin oxide, Indium(III) oxide, Persistent organic pollutant, Polychlorinated biphenyl, Polychlorinated dibenzodioxins


Nanodiamonds (NDs) and graphene oxide (GO) are modern carbon-based nanomaterials with promising features for the inhibition of microorganism growth ability. Here we compare the effects of nanodiamond and graphene oxide in both annealed (oxidized) and reduced (hydrogenated) forms in two types of cultivation media-Luria-Bertani (LB) and Mueller-Hinton (MH) broths. The comparison shows that the number of colony forming unit (CFU) ofEscherichia coliis significantly lowered (45%) by all the nanomaterials in LB medium for at least 24 h against control. On the contrary, a significant long-term inhibition ofE. coligrowth (by 45%) in the MH medium is provided only by hydrogenated NDs terminated with C-H X groups. The use of salty agars did not enhance the inhibition effects of nanomaterials used, i.e. disruption of bacterial membrane or differences in ionic concentrations do not play any role in bactericidal effects of nanomaterials used. The specific role of the ND and GO on the enhancement of the oxidative stress of bacteria or possible wrapping bacteria by GO nanosheets, therefore isolating them from both the environment and nutrition was suggested. Analyses by infrared spectroscopy, photoelectron spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy and dynamic light scattering corroborate these conclusions.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Electron, Spectroscopy, Carbon dioxide, Bacteria, Redox, Electrochemistry, Nitrogen


Small fluoride nanoparticles (NPs) with strong down-conversion (DC) luminescence at 1.5 μm are quite desirable for optical fiber communication systems. Nevertheless, a problem exists regarding how to synthesize small fluoride NPs with strong DC emission at 1.5 μm. Herein, we propose an approach to improve 1.5 μm emission of BaLuF₅:Yb3+,Er3+ NPs by way of combining doping Ce3+ ions and coating multiple BaLuF₅: Yb3+ active-shells. We prepared the BaLuF₅:18%Yb3+,2%Er3+,2%Ce3+ NPs through a high-boiling solvent method. The effect of Ce3+ concentration on the DC luminescence was systematically investigated in the BaLuF₅:Yb3+,Er3+ NPs. Under a 980 nm laser excitation, the intensities of 1.53 μm emission of BaLuF₅:18%Yb3+,2%Er3+,2%Ce3+ NPs was enhanced by 2.6 times comparing to that of BaLuF₅:18%Yb3+,2%Er3+ NPs since the energy transfer between Er3+ and Ce3+ ions: Er3+:⁴I11/2 (Er3+) + ²F5/2 (Ce3+) → ⁴I13/2 (Er3+) + ²F7/2 (Ce3+). Then, we synthesized BaLuF₅:18%Yb3+,2%Er3+,2%Ce3+@BaLuF₅:5%Yb3+@BaLuF₅:5%Yb3+ core-active-shell-active-shell NPs via a layer-by-layer strategy. After coating two BaLuF₅:Yb3+ active-shell around BaLuF₅:Yb3+,Er3+,Ce3+ NPs, the intensities of the 1.53 μm emission was enhanced by 44 times compared to that of BaLuF₅:Yb3+,Er3+ core NPs, since the active-shells could be used to not only suppress surface quenching but also to transfer the pump light to the core region efficiently through Yb3+ ions inside the active-shells.


A new low-pressure plasma-based approach to activate the surface of BN nanoparticles (BNNPs) in order to facilitate the attachment of folate acid (FA) molecules for cancer-specific therapy is described. Plasma treatment of BNNPs (BNNPsPT) was performed in a radiofrequency plasma reactor using ethylene and carbon dioxide monomers. The carboxyl groups deposited on the surface of BNNPsPT were activated by N,N'-dicyclohexylcarbodiimide (DCC) and participated in the condensation reaction with ethylene diamine (EDA) to form a thin amino-containing layer (EDA-BNNPPT). Then, the DCC-activated FA was covalently bonded with BNNPsPT by a chemical reaction between amino groups of EDA-BNNPsPT and carboxyl groups of FA. Density functional theory calculations showed that the pre-activation of FA by DCC is required for grafting of the FA to the EDA-BNNPsPT. It was also demonstrated that after FA immobilization, the electronic characteristics of the pteridine ring remain unchanged, indicating that the targeting properties of the FA/EDA-BNNPsPT nanohybrids are preserved.


Microelectrodes offer higher current density and lower ohmic drop due to increased radial diffusion. They are beneficial for electroanalytical applications, particularly for the detection of analytes at trace concentrations. Microelectrodes can be fabricated as arrays to improve the current response, but are presently only commercially available with gold or platinum electrode surfaces, thus limiting the sensing of analytes that are more electroactive on other surfaces. In this work, gold (Au), copper (Cu), and palladium (Pd) are electrodeposited at two different potentials into the recessed holes of commercial microelectrode arrays to produce 3-dimensional (3D) spiky, dendritic or coral-like structures. The rough fractal structures that are produced afford enhanced electroactive surface area and increased radial diffusion due to the 3D nature, which drastically improves the sensitivity. 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT), carbon dioxide gas (CO2), and hydrogen gas (H2) were chosen as model analytes in room temperature ionic liquid solvents, to demonstrate improvements in the sensitivity of the modified microelectrode arrays, and, in some cases (e.g., for CO2 and H2), enhancements in the electrocatalytic ability. With the deposition of different materials, we have demonstrated enhanced sensitivity and electrocatalytic behaviour towards the chosen analytes.


Highly stable and active low-temperature CO oxidation catalysts without noble metals are desirable to achieve a sustainable society. While zero-dimensional to three-dimensional Co₃O₄ nanoparticles show high catalytic activity, simple-structured nanocrystals easily self-aggregate and become sintered during catalytic reaction. Thus, complex three-dimensional nanostructures with high stability are of considerable interest. However, the controlled synthesis of complex nanoscale shapes remains a great challenge as no synthesis theory has been established. In this study, 100 nm raspberry-shaped nanoparticles composed of 7⁻8 nm Co₃O₄ nanoparticles were synthesized by hydrothermally treating cobalt glycolate solution with sodium sulfate. Surface single nanometer-scale structures with large surface areas of 89 m²·g-1 and abundant oxygen vacancies were produced. The sulfate ions functioned as bridging ligands to promote self-assembly and suppress particle growth. The Co₃O₄ nano-raspberry was highly stable under catalytic tests at 350 °C and achieved nearly 100% CO conversion at room temperature. The addition of bridging ligands is an effective method to control the formation of complex but ordered three-dimensional nanostructures that possessed extreme thermal and chemical stability and exhibited high performance.