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High-resolution imaging of interfaces

Processes occurring at the interface between materials of the same or different phases underlie many important phenomena in chemistry, biology and materials science. EU-funded scientists developed new imaging techniques that allow clear images of interfacial reactions to be displayed three times faster than conventional methods.
High-resolution imaging of interfaces
Electrochemical reactions taking place at the interface of solids/liquids often involve material exchange at phase boundaries such that the interfaces are chemically in flux. Such reactions mainly depend on the mass transport of reactants between the bulk solution and an area near a charged surface as well as the rate of electron transfer. Detailed understanding of the complex relationships between the adsorption of electrochemical reactants, intermediates or products on the electrode surface, surface reactivity, and interfacial morphology is essential for efficient control of electrochemical processes.

Electrochemical scanning probe microscopy is a powerful tool for control, analysis and visualisation of interfacial fluxes. The EU-funded project FUNICIS (Functional ion conductance and sensing) expanded the capabilities of this microscopy method of functional imaging of technologically important interfaces.

Scientists developed a new method for image acquisition that records high-quality maps of functional interfacial properties (e.g. reactivity). The efficiency of this advanced method was demonstrated on catalytic nanoparticles, modified surfaces and carbon nanotubes.

This new imaging platform allowed recording image 'movies' rather than single images of electrochemical reactions at the interfaces, offering a new level of understanding on chemical activity of materials. The newly developed technique for high-quality movies of chemical activity was also successfully implemented on scanning ion-conductance microscopy.

The team also devised another method of fabricating and imaging complex 3D nanostructures based on the use of dual-barrel nanopipette probes. Electrochemical control of ionic fluxes enables high-resolution 3D printing at the nanoscale.

FUNICIS developed a family of innovative imaging methods capable of quantitatively visualising interfacial fluxes with unprecedented resolution and frame rates. The developments have important implications for our understanding of electrochemical reactions.

Related information


Imaging, interfaces, electrochemical reactions, FUNICIS, ion conductance
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