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Journal: Physical chemistry chemical physics : PCCP


Here we show the efficacy of graphene oxide (GO) for rapid removal of some of the most toxic and radioactive long-lived human-made radionuclides from contaminated water, even from acidic solutions (pH < 2). The interaction of GO with actinides including Am(iii), Th(iv), Pu(iv), Np(v), U(vi) and typical fission products Sr(ii), Eu(iii) and Tc(vii) were studied, along with their sorption kinetics. Cation/GO coagulation occurs with the formation of nanoparticle aggregates of GO sheets, facilitating their removal. GO is far more effective in removal of transuranium elements from simulated nuclear waste solutions than other routinely used sorbents such as bentonite clays and activated carbon. These results point toward a simple methodology to mollify the severity of nuclear waste contamination, thereby leading to effective measures for environmental remediation.

Concepts: Carbon dioxide, Nuclear physics, Chemical element, Colloid, Nuclear fission, Activated carbon, Radioactive contamination, Radioactive waste


Optical microscopes have for centuries been our window to the microscopic world. The advent of single-molecule optics over the past few decades has ushered in a new era in optical imaging, partly because it has enabled the observation of motion and more recently structure on the nanoscopic scale through the development of super-resolution techniques. The large majority of these studies have relied on the efficient detection of fluorescence as the basis of single-molecule sensitivity. Despite the many advantages of using single emitters as light sources, the intensity and duration of their emission impose fundamental limits on the imaging speed and precision for tracking studies. Here, we discuss the potential of a novel imaging technique based on interferometric scattering (iSCAT) that pushes both the sensitivity and time resolution far beyond what is currently achievable by single-emitter-based approaches. We present recent results that demonstrate single-molecule sensitivity and imaging speeds on the microsecond timescale.

Concepts: Time, Optics, Light, Microscope, Microscopy, Book of Optics, Intensity, Optical microscope


Ice repellent coatings have been studied and keenly sought after for many years, where any advances in the durability of such coatings will result in huge energy savings across many fields. Progress in creating anti-ice and anti-frost surfaces has been particularly rapid since the discovery and development of slippery, liquid infused porous surfaces (SLIPS). Here we use SLIPS-coated differential scanning calorimeter (DSC) pans to investigate the effects of the surface modification on the nucleation of supercooled water. This investigation is inherently different from previous studies which looked at the adhesion of ice to SLIPS surfaces, or the formation of ice under high humidity conditions. Given the stochastic nature of nucleation of ice from supercooled water, multiple runs on the same sample are needed to determine if a given surface coating has a real and statistically significant effect on the nucleation temperature. We have cycled supercooling to freezing and then thawing of deionized water in hydrophilic (untreated aluminum), hydrophobic, superhydrophobic, and SLIPS-treated DSC pans multiple times to determine the effects of surface treatment on the nucleation and subsequent growth of ice. We find that SLIPS coatings lower the nucleation temperature of supercooled water in contact with statistical significance and show no deterioration or change in the coating performance even after 150 freeze-thaw cycles.

Concepts: Statistics, Statistical significance, Liquid, Differential scanning calorimetry, Nucleation, Supercooling, Melting point, Freezing rain


Plasmonic nanostructures have played a significant role in the field of nanotechnology due to their unprecedented ability to concentrate light at the nanometre scale, which renders them precious for various sensing applications. The adsorption of plasmonic nanoparticles and nanostructures onto solid substrates in a controlled manner is a crucial process for the fabrication of nanoplasmonic devices, in which the nanoparticles amplify the electromagnetic fields for enhanced device performance. In this perspective article we summarize recent developments in the fabrication of flexible nanoplasmonic devices for sensing applications based on surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) and localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) shifts. We introduce different types of flexible substrates such as filter paper, free-standing nanofibres, elastomers, plastics, carbon nanotubes and graphene, for the fabrication of low-cost flexible nanoplasmonic devices. Various techniques are described that allow impregnation of such flexible substrates with plasmonic nanoparticles, including solution processes, physical vapour deposition and lithographic techniques. From the discussion in this Perspective, it is clear that highly sensitive and reproducible flexible plasmonic devices can currently be fabricated on a large scale at relatively low-cost, toward real-world applications in diagnostics and detection.

Concepts: Electromagnetism, Nanoparticle, Nanotechnology, Surface plasmon resonance, Plasmon, Plasma oscillation, Waves in plasmas


Reactive dynamics simulations with the reactive force field (ReaxFF) were performed in NVE ensembles to study the sintering of two solid calcium oxide (CaO) particles with and without CO(2) chemisorption. The simulated sintering conditions included starting adsorption temperatures at 1000 K and 1500 K and particle separation distances of 0.3 and 0.5 nm. The results revealed that the expansion of sorbent particles during CO(2) chemisorption was attributed to the sintering of two CaO-CaO particles. Increasing the adsorption temperature resulted in more particle expansion and sintering. The shorter the distance between two particles, the faster the rate of sintering during CO(2) adsorption. A detailed analysis on atom spatial variations revealed that the sorbent particles with a larger separation distance had a larger CO(2) uptake because of less sintering incurred. The chemisorptions of CO(2) on CaO particles sintered at high adsorption temperatures were also simulated to mimic the process of sorbent regeneration. It was found that regeneration would be more difficult for sintered particles than for fresh particles. In addition, a possible sintering barrier, magnesium oxide (MgO), was introduced to prevent CaO particles from sintering during CO(2) chemisorption. It was found that the MgO particles could reduce the sintering of CaO particles during CO(2) chemisorption. Simulation results from this study provided some guidelines on synthesizing or selecting sorbents with less sintering effect for multiple CO(2) adsorption-regeneration cycles.

Concepts: Magnesium, Calcium, Oxide, Oxides, Calcium oxide, Magnesium oxide, Beryllium oxide, Strontium oxide


α-Fe(2)O(3) (hematite) photoanodes for the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) were prepared by a cost-efficient sol-gel procedure. Due to low active photoelectrochemical properties observed, it is assumed that the sol-gel procedure leads to hematite films with defects and surface states on which generated charge carriers are recombined or immobilized in trap processes. Electrochemical activation was proven to diminish unfavourable surface groups to some extent. More efficiently, a plasma treatment improves significantly the photoelectrochemical properties of the OER. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) analysis reveals an oxygen enriched surface layer with new oxygen species which may be responsible for the improved electrochemical activity. Due to surface photovoltage an increased fraction of transferred charge carriers from these newly produced surface defects are identified.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Spectroscopy, Oxygen, X-ray, Iron, Oxide, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, Oxygen evolution


The bonding characteristics in cysteine-gold cluster complexes represented by thiolate (Au(n)·Cys(S) (n = 1, 3, 5, 7)) and thiol (Au(n)·Cys(SH) (n = 2, 4, 6, 8)) is investigated by density functional theory with 6-31G(d,p) and Lanl2DZ hybrid basis sets. The complexes exhibit very different bonding characteristic between these two forms. In the Au(n)·Cys(S) complexes, the charge transfers from gold clusters to sulfur atoms. The number of S-Au bonds in the Au(n)·Cys(S) complexes evolves from one to two when n is greater than three. For n equals three, i.e. Au(3)·Cys(S), its ground state only has one S-Au bond. While the only S-Au bond in Au(1)·Cys(S) is mainly covalent, the nature of the S-Au bond in other thiolates is featured with the combination of covalent and donor-acceptor interactions. In particular, one stable isomer of Au(3)·Cys(S) with two S-Au bonds, which is 2 kcal mol(-1) higher in energy than the corresponding ground state, consists of one covalent and one donor-acceptor S-Au bond explicitly. Moreover, the localized three center two electron bonds are formed within the Au clusters, which facilitates the formation of the two S-Au bonds in Au(5)·Cys(S) and Au(7)·Cys(S) complexes. In the Au(n)·Cys(SH) complexes, the donor-acceptor interaction prevails in the Au-SH bond by transferring lone pair electrons from the sulfur atom to the adjacent gold atom. Interestingly, the orbital with much more 6s-component in Au(4)·Cys(SH) enhances the donor-acceptor bonding character, thus yields the strongest bonding among all the Au(n)·Cys(SH) complexes studied in this paper. In general, the bonding strength between gold clusters and cysteine is positively correlated with the S-Au overlap-weighted bond order, but negatively correlated with the S-Au bond length. Lastly, the covalent and donor-acceptor S-Au bond strength is computed to be 48 and 18 kcal mol(-1), respectively.

Concepts: Electron, Atom, Chemical bond, Disulfide bond, Quantum chemistry, Bond order, Thiol, Bond length


Sponge-like porous Ni(OH)(2)-NiF(2) composite (PNC) film was successfully synthesized by the anodization of nickel in a NH(4)F and H(3)PO(4) containing electrolyte. Thanks to the good conductivity and the highly porous architecture, PNC exhibited not only a high specific capacitance, but also a superior rate capability and a good cyclability (2090 F g(-1) at 10 mV s(-1), capacitance >1200 F g(-1) at 100 A g(-1) after 2000 cycles). Anodization of nickel is proven to be fast and facile and can be easily scaled up. The method described here is promising for the fabrication of supercapacitor electrodes with excellent performance.

Concepts: Electrochemistry, Physical chemistry, Battery, Electrolyte, Electrode, Electrolysis, Anode, Electroplating


Vibronic spectra of 9H-adenine, 9-acetyladenine and several alkyladenines have been recorded by resonant two-photon ionization spectroscopy of the laser-desorbed molecules, entrained in a molecular beam. While adenine and the alkyladenines exhibit similar electronic spectra, 9-acetyladenine behaves considerably different. Theoretical absorption spectra of 9H-adenine and 9-acetyladenine were calculated using the combined density functional theory/multi-reference configuration interaction approach and using second order coupled cluster theory, in order to explain striking differences in the experimental spectra. The major differences between the 9H-adenine and the 9-acetyladenine absorption spectra can be traced back to the different configurations, which contribute to the excitations, both of the lowest ππ* and the nπ* states. While the excitations in 9H-adenine are localized in the chromophore, they show considerable charge transfer character from the chromophore to the acetyl group in the case of 9-acetyladenine.

Concepts: Scientific method, Atom, Difference, Quantum chemistry, Theory, Acetyl, Coupled cluster, Acetoxy group


Mesoporous titanium nitride (TiN) with high surface area and good electrical conductivity was prepared by a novel solid-solid phase separation method from a Zn containing titanium oxide, Zn(2)TiO(4). The PXRD shows single phase rocksalt structure of TiN with a domain size of 25 nm. The conductivity of mesoporous TiN at 35 bar is 395 S cm(-1). The Pt/TiN catalyst exhibits more negative onset potential for methanol electrooxidation (0.15 V) than Pt/C (0.22 V), showing a higher intrinsic electrocatalytic activity, while its peak current density (228 mA mg(-1) Pt) is ∼1.5 times higher than that of Pt/C (148 mA mg(-1) Pt). The Pt/TiN catalyst also demonstrates excellent long-term stability. This work provides an efficient method to prepare mesoporous nitrides as a promising support towards oxidation of small organic molecules in fuel cells.

Concepts: Oxygen, Hydrogen, Electrochemistry, Nitrogen, Aluminium, Electrical conductivity, Nitrides, Titanium nitride