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  1. Abstract

    Optical transmission and scattering spectroscopic microscopy at the visible and adjacent wavelengths denote one of the most informative and inclusive characterization methods in material research. Unfortunately, restricted by the diffraction limit of light, it cannot resolve the nanoscale variation in light absorption and scattering, diagnostics of the local inhomogeneity in material structure and properties. Moreover, a large quantity of nanomaterials has anisotropic optical properties that are appealing yet hard to characterize through conventional optical methods. There is an increasing demand to extend the optical hyperspectral imaging into the nanometer length scale. In this work, we report a super-resolution hyperspectral imaging technique that uses a nanoscale white light source generated by superfocusing the light from a tungsten-halogen lamp to simultaneously obtain optical transmission and scattering spectroscopic images. A 6-nm spatial resolution in the visible to near-infrared wavelength regime (415–980 nm) is demonstrated on an individual single-walled carbon nanotube (SW-CNT). Both the longitudinal and transverse optical electronic transitions are measured, and the SW-CNT chiral indices can be identified. The band structure modulation in a SW-CNT through strain engineering is mapped.

  2. Abstract Silver nanowires (AgNWs) hold great promise for applications in wearable electronics, flexible solar cells, chemical and biological sensors, photonic/plasmonic circuits, and scanning probe microscopy (SPM) due to their unique plasmonic, mechanical, and electronic properties. However, the lifetime, reliability, and operating conditions of AgNW-based devices are significantly restricted by their poor chemical stability, limiting their commercial potentials. Therefore, it is crucial to create a reliable oxidation barrier on AgNWs that provides long-term chemical stability to various optical, electrical, and mechanical devices while maintaining their high performance. Here we report a room-temperature solution-phase approach to grow an ultra-thin, epitaxial gold coating on AgNWs to effectively shield the Ag surface from environmental oxidation. The Ag@Au core-shell nanowires (Ag@Au NWs) remain stable in air for over six months, under elevated temperature and humidity (80 °C and 100% humidity) for twelve weeks, in physiological buffer solutions for three weeks, and can survive overnight treatment of an oxidative solution (2% H 2 O 2 ). The Ag@Au core-shell NWs demonstrated comparable performance as pristine AgNWs in various electronic, optical, and mechanical devices, such as transparent mesh electrodes, surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) substrates, plasmonic waveguides, plasmonic nanofocusing probes, and high-aspect-ratio, high-resolution atomic force microscopy (AFM) probes.more »These Au@Ag core-shell NWs offer a universal solution towards chemically-stable AgNW-based devices without compromising material property or device performance.« less
  3. Recent years have seen a rapid expansion of research into photonic and plasmonic nanowire waveguides for both fundamental studies and technological applications, because of their ability to propagate and process optical signals in tightly confined light fields with high speed and low power, space and material requirements. This comprehensive review summarizes recent advances in the fabrication, characterization and applications of both photonic and plasmonic NW waveguides, with a special focus on the comparative discussion of their differences and similarities in mechanisms and properties, strengths and limitations in performance, and how they can work together in hybrid devices with performances and applications that neither can achieve individually. We also provide an outlook on the future opportunities and directions in this exciting field.
  4. Chemically-synthesized single-crystalline silver nanowire (AgNW) probes can combine the scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) technique with tip-enhanced Raman scattering spectroscopy (TERS) for complementary morphological and chemical information with nanoscale spatial resolution. However, its performance has been limited by the blunt nanowire tip geometry, the insulating surfactant layer coating AgNW surfaces, and the thermal-induced mechanical vibrations. Here, we report a reproducible fabrication method for the preparation of sharp-tip AgNW-based TERS probes. By removing the polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) surfactant molecules from the AgNW surfaces for stable electrical conductivity and controlling the protruding length with μm-level accuracy for improved mechanical stability, we demonstrate atomic-resolution STM imaging with the sharp-tip AgNW probe. Furthermore, the sharp-tip AgNW has an excellent TER enhancement (∼1.1 × 10 6 ), which is about 66 folds of that achieved by regular AgNWs. Our experiments demonstrate that AgNWs with clean interfaces and the proper tip geometry can provide reliable and reproducible STM and TER characterizations, which remove the hurdles preventing the implementation of AgNW in STM-based near-field optical applications for a broad community.
  5. Abstract

    Electrospinning is a versatile method for synthesizing nanofibrous structures from nearly all polymers, offering a solution for the industrial‐scale mass production of nanomaterials in a wide range of applications. However, the continuous non‐woven structure intrinsic to electrospun fibers limits their applications, where a smaller length scale is desired. Here, we present a novel method to synthesize polymeric nanofiber‐fragments based on colloid electrospinning of polymer and sacrificial silica nanoparticles, followed by mechanical fracturing with ultrasonication. The size and hydrophobicity of silica nanoparticles are optimized for their improved integration within the polymer matrix, and the controllability of nanofiber‐fragment length by the amount of silica nanoparticle loading, down to 2 µm in length for poly(vinylidene fluoride‐trifluoroethylene) nanofibers with an average fiber diameter of approximately 100 nm, is shown. The resultant nanofiber‐fragments are shown to maintain their material properties including piezoelectric coefficients and their enhanced injectability for drug delivery application is demonstrated with an animal model.

  6. Abstract

    Wearable piezoresistive sensors are being developed as electronic skins (E‐skin) for broad applications in human physiological monitoring and soft robotics. Tactile sensors with sufficient sensitivities, durability, and large dynamic ranges are required to replicate this critical component of the somatosensory system. Multiple micro/nanostructures, materials, and sensing modalities have been reported to address this need. However, a trade‐off arises between device performance and device complexity. Inspired by the microstructure of the spinosum at the dermo epidermal junction in skin, a low‐cost, scalable, and high‐performance piezoresistive sensor is developed with high sensitivity (0.144 kPa‐1), extensive sensing range ( 0.1–15 kPa), fast response time (less than 150 ms), and excellent long‐term stability (over 1000 cycles). Furthermore, the piezoresistive functionality of the device is realized via a flexible transparent electrode (FTE) using a highly stable reduced graphene oxide self‐wrapped copper nanowire network. The developed nanowire‐based spinosum microstructured FTEs are amenable to wearable electronics applications.