skip to main content

Search for: All records

Creators/Authors contains: "Thundat, Thomas"

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. An accurate molecular identification of plastic waste is important in increasing the efficacy of automatic plastic sorting in recycling. However, identification of real-world plastic waste, according to their resin identification code, remains challenging due to the lack of techniques that can provide high molecular selectivity. In this study, a standoff photothermal spectroscopy technique, utilizing a microcantilever, was used for acquiring mid-infrared spectra of real-world plastic waste, including those with additives, surface contaminants, and mixed plastics. Analysis of the standoff spectral data, using Convolutional Neural Network (CNN), showed 100% accuracy in selectively identifying real-world plastic waste according to their respective resin identification codes. Standoff photothermal spectroscopy, together with CNN analysis, offers a promising approach for the selective characterization of waste plastics in Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs).

    more » « less
  2. Molecular-level spectroscopy is crucial for sensing and imaging applications, yet detecting and quantifying minuscule quantities of chemicals remains a challenge, especially when they surface-adsorb in low numbers. Here, we introduce a photothermal spectroscopic technique that enables the sensing and quantification of adsorbates with an attogram detection limit. Our approach utilizes the Seebeck effect in a microfabricated nanoscale thermocouple junction, incorporated into the apex of a microcantilever. We observe minimal thermal mass exhibited by the sensor which maintains exceptional thermal insulation. The temperature variation driving the thermoelectric junction arises from the non-radiative decay of molecular adsorbates' vibrational states on the tip. We demonstrate the detection of physisorbed trinitrotoluene (TNT) and dimethyl methylphosphonate (DMMP) molecules, as well as representative polymers, with an estimated mass sensitivity of 10-18 g and a temperature resolution of 40 mK. 
    more » « less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2024
  3. Standoff detection based on optical spectroscopy is an attractive method for identifying materials at a distance with very high molecular selectivity. Standoff spectroscopy can be exploited in demanding practical applications such as sorting plastics for recycling. Here, we demonstrate selective and sensitive standoff detection of polymer films using bi-material cantilever-based photothermal spectroscopy. We demonstrate that the selectivity of the technique is sufficient to discriminate various polymers. We also demonstrate in situ, point detection of thin layers of polymers deposited on bi-material cantilevers using photothermal spectroscopy. Comparison of the standoff spectra with those obtained by point detection, FTIR, and FTIR-ATR show relative broadening of peaks. Exposure of polymers to UV radiation (365 nm) reveal that the spectral peaks do not change with exposure time, but results in peak broadening with an overall increase in the background cantilever response. The sensitivity of the technique can be further improved by optimizing the thermal sensitivity of the bi-material cantilever and by increasing the number of photons impinging on the cantilever. 
    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    Although tip‐enhanced tribo‐tunneling in metal/semiconductor point nanocontact is capable of producing DC with high current density, scaling up the process for power harvesting for practical applications is challenging due to the complexity of tip array fabrication and insufficient voltage output. Here, it is demonstrated that mechanical contact between a carbon aerogel and silicon (SiO2/Si) interface naturally forms multiple nanocontacts for tribo‐tunneling current generation with an open‐circuit voltage output (VOC) reaching 2 V, and short‐circuit DC current output (ISC) of ≈15 µA. It has a theoretical current density ( J*) on the order of 100 A m−2. Molecular dynamics simulation and atomistic field theory show that a strong localized electronic excitation can be induced at a dynamic carbon/SiO2sliding interface, which is in good agreement with the experimental results. The DC power output is enhanced by the intense local pressure at the presence of nanocontacts, as well as the increased sliding velocityv. To demonstrate the method for practical applications, light‐emitting diodes (LEDs) with different colors are successfully lighted by a single‐carbon aerogel monolith/SiO2sliding unit, and the DC electricity is stored in a capacitor without an additional rectification circuit.

    more » « less