Techniques and instrumentation

  • Article
    | Open Access

    High-resolution characterisation techniques enable us to better understand the properties of nanoscale materials and devices. By combining electron microscopy and infrared nanoscopy, Stiegleret al.demonstrate a general approach to simultaneously probe the structural, chemical and electronic properties of a nanostructure.

    • J.M. Stiegler
    • , R. Tena-Zaera
    •  & R. Hillenbrand
  • Article |

    The degree of polydispersity of colloidal suspensions is known to have consequences for their physical properties. Kuritaet al. present a general method for determining the sizes of individual particles, and thus the polydispersity, using only the coordinates of the centre positions of spherical particles.

    • Rei Kurita
    • , David B. Ruffner
    •  & Eric R. Weeks
  • Article |

    Ultrathin inorganic materials hold promise for a variety of applications, including flexible electronics. This work presents a fabrication method that permits the synthesis of large and flexible freestanding layers of zinc selenide that display a high-photocurrent density.

    • Yongfu Sun
    • , Zhihu Sun
    •  & Yi Xie
  • Article |

    The torque contributions exerted by spin-polarized currents on magnetic structures are not fully understood due to the difficulty in discerning their relative weight. Pollardet al. propose a novel method to directly determine the value of the competing spin transfer torques by in-situLorentz microscopy.

    • S.D. Pollard
    • , L. Huang
    •  & Y. Zhu
  • Article |

    Ink-jet printing methods are an attractive approach to nanofabrication, where electrohydrodynamic control allows for flexible and cheap fabrication. Here, a new approach is presented using electrostatic nanodroplet autofocussing to produce high aspect ratio nanoscale structures like plasmonic nanoantennas.

    • P. Galliker
    • , J. Schneider
    •  & D. Poulikakos
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The monolayer transition-metal dichalcogenide molybdenum disulphide has recently attracted attention owing to its distinctive electronic properties. Cao and co-workers present numerical evidence suggesting that circularly polarized light can preferentially excite a single valley in the band structure of this system.

    • Ting Cao
    • , Gang Wang
    •  & Ji Feng
  • Article |

    Organic electronic devices are promising for many applications, particularly in biomedical research, but are hindered by thermal instability and low melting points. Now, organic thin-film transistors are shown with excellent thermal properties that can withstand medical sterilization processes.

    • Kazunori Kuribara
    • , He Wang
    •  & Takao Someya
  • Article |

    Strategies to tune the surface properties of topological insulators are essential, if they are to find use in applications. Using a combination of theoretical and experimental techniques, this study examines how the properties of ordered ternary topological insulators vary with the content of group IV elements.

    • Sergey V. Eremeev
    • , Gabriel Landolt
    •  & Evgueni V. Chulkov
  • Article |

    Ferroelectric materials are characterized by a spontaneous polarization, which in practical applications is manipulated by an electric field. This study examines how defects affect the switching with atomic resolution, by usingin situaberration-corrected transmission electron microscopy.

    • Peng Gao
    • , Christopher T. Nelson
    •  & Xiaoqing Pan
  • Article |

    X-ray ptychography has been used to extend the field of view in high-resolution quantitative imaging. Godardet al. develop Bragg-mode ptychography to reconstruct, in three dimensions, a crystalline specimen that is too large to be studied as a single object with a coherence-limited X-ray beam.

    • P. Godard
    • , G. Carbone
    •  & V. Chamard
  • Article |

    The controllable modification of graphene by chemical functionalization can modulate its optical and electronic properties. Sunet al. devise a functionalisation-based method to pattern graphane/graphene superlattices within a single sheet of graphene.

    • Zhengzong Sun
    • , Cary L. Pint
    •  & James M. Tour
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Tunnelling transitions triggered by microwave irradiation between coupled quantum dots have generally been assumed to be spin-conserving. This study shows that this condition is violated in the presence of spin–orbit coupling, thus opening new possibilities for manipulating a two–spin qubit system by microwave irradiation.

    • L.R. Schreiber
    • , F.R. Braakman
    •  & L.M.K. Vandersypen
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Being able to determine the wetting properties of individual nanoparticles would aid the preparation of particles with controlled surface properties. Isaet al. develop an in situ freeze-fracture shadow-casting method and use this to determine structural and thermodynamic properties of various 10 nm particles at fluid interfaces.

    • Lucio Isa
    • , Falk Lucas
    •  & Erik Reimhult
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Flux-closure patterns are rarely observed in ferroelectric materials and almost exclusively form at the nanoscale. McQuaidet al. report mesoscopic dipole closure patterns formed in free-standing single-crystal lamellae of BaTiO3, thought to result from an unusual set of experimental conditions.

    • R.G.P. McQuaid
    • , L.J. McGilly
    •  & J.M. Gregg
  • Article |

    The unoccupied electronic levels of graphene are modified by corrugation, doping and presence of impurities. Here, the authors map discrete electronic domains within a single graphene sheet using scanning transmission X-ray microscopy and provide insight into the modification of unoccupied levels.

    • Brian J. Schultz
    • , Christopher J. Patridge
    •  & Sarbajit Banerjee
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Nanoparticles continue to find research and industrial applications, but no single technique exists to characterise their physical properties. Now, an analytical ultracentrifugation method is described which allows the simulataneous determination of nanoparticle size, density and molecular weight distribution.

    • Randy P. Carney
    • , Jin Young Kim
    •  & Osman M. Bakr
  • Article |

    Metal-based nanostructures offer a solution to scale down photonics to the nanoscale. Sorgeret al. directly demonstrate waveguiding of ultra-small propagating waves at visible and near-infrared frequencies using NSOM imaging, with the potential for nanoscale photonic applications such as bio-sensing.

    • Volker J. Sorger
    • , Ziliang Ye
    •  & Xiang Zhang
  • Article |

    Solid gold is most stable as a face-centred cubic structure, and stable colloidal gold with hexagonal close packing has not been produced. Huanget al.prepare square gold sheets with hexagonal close packing that are stable under ambient conditions.

    • Xiao Huang
    • , Shaozhou Li
    •  & Hua Zhang
  • Article |

    Nanometallic optical antennas can concentrate light into a deep-subwavelength volume for sensor and photovoltaic applications. Junet al. demonstrate an optical antenna design that achieves a high level of control over fluorescent emission for a wide range of nanoscale optical spectroscopy applications.

    • Young Chul Jun
    • , Kevin C.Y. Huang
    •  & Mark L. Brongersma
  • Article |

    Lenses are restricted by diffraction to imaging features roughly the size of visible wavelengths. Wanget al. develop a white-light nanoscope that uses optically transparent spherical silica lenses to virtually image, in the far-field, features down to 50 nm resolution.

    • Zengbo Wang
    • , Wei Guo
    •  & Minghui Hong
  • Article |

    Water-soluble peptides with stable α-helical conformations are desirable for a range of applications, but incorporating charged residues to improve solubility usually leads to reduced helical stability. Here, polypeptides produced from amino acids with elongated charged side chains are found to be water soluble and exhibit very high helical stability.

    • Hua Lu
    • , Jing Wang
    •  & Jianjun Cheng
  • Article |

    The imaging of magnetic domains in three-dimensional solids has been hampered by a lack of suitable methods. The authors show that Talbot-Lau neutron tomography is capable of visualizing the domain structure of an iron silicide bulk crystal.

    • I. Manke
    • , N. Kardjilov
    •  & J. Banhart
  • Article |

    Energy harvesting through mechanical actions of nanosized components could be useful for powering mobile electronics. Here, the authors grow lead zirconate nanowire arrays at comparatively low temperature and use them to power a macroscopic laser diode.

    • Sheng Xu
    • , Benjamin J. Hansen
    •  & Zhong Lin Wang
  • Article |

    Flicker noise in nanoscale field effect transistors deviates from the simple frequency-dependent behaviour of macroscale objects. Here the authors show that Coulomb repulsion between nearby trap sites leads to an order of magnitude reduction in noise in these devices.

    • N. Clément
    • , K. Nishiguchi
    •  & D. Vuillaume