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  1. Abstract

    Three-dimensional bicontinuous porous materials formed by dealloying contribute significantly to various applications including catalysis, sensor development and energy storage. This work studies a method of molten salt dealloying via real-time in situ synchrotron three-dimensional X-ray nano-tomography. Quantification of morphological parameters determined that long-range diffusion is the rate-determining step for the dealloying process. The subsequent coarsening rate was primarily surface diffusion controlled, with Rayleigh instability leading to ligament pinch-off and creating isolated bubbles in ligaments, while bulk diffusion leads to a slight densification. Chemical environments characterized by X-ray absorption near edge structure spectroscopic imaging show that molten salt dealloying prevents surface oxidation of the metal. In this work, gaining a fundamental mechanistic understanding of the molten salt dealloying process in forming porous structures provides a nontoxic, tunable dealloying technique and has important implications for molten salt corrosion processes, which is one of the major challenges in molten salt reactors and concentrated solar power plants.

  2. Abstract The synthesis of nanostructured surfaces via block copolymer (BCP) self-assembly enables a precise control of the surface feature shape within a range of dimensions of the order of tens of nanometers. This work studies how to exploit this ability to control the wetting hysteresis and liquid adhesion forces as the substrate undergoes chemical aging and changes in its intrinsic wettability. Via BCP self-assembly we fabricate nanostructured surfaces on silicon substrates with a hexagonal array of regular conical pillars having a fixed period (52 nm) and two different heights (60 and 200 nm), which results in substantially different lateral and top surface areas of the nanostructure. The wetting hysteresis of the fabricated surfaces is characterized using force–displacement measurements under quasistaic conditions and over sufficiently long periods of time for which the substrate chemistry and surface energy, characterized by the Young contact angle, varies significantly. The experimental results and theoretical analysis indicate that controlling the lateral and top area of the nanostructure not only controls the degree of wetting hysteresis but can also make the advancing and receding contact angles less susceptible to chemical aging. These results can help rationalize the design of nanostructured surfaces for different applications such as self-cleaning,more »enhanced heat transfer, and drag reduction in micro/nanofluidic devices.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 23, 2023
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 15, 2023
  4. Operando synchrotron X-ray diffraction (XRD) studies have not previously been used to directly characterize Li metal in standard batteries due to the extremely weak scattering from Li atoms. In this work, it is demonstrated the stripping and plating of Li metal can be effectively quantified during battery cycling in appropriately designed synchrotron XRD experiments that utilize an anode-free battery configuration in which a Li-containing cathode material of LiNi 0.6 Mn 0.2 Co 0.2 O 2 (NMC622) is paired with a bare anode current collector consisting of either Cu metal (Cu/NMC) or Mo metal (Mo/NMC). In this configuration, it is possible to probe local variations in the deposition and stripping of Li metal with sufficient spatial sensitivity to map the inhomogeneity in pouch cells and to follow these processes with sufficient time resolution to track state-of-charge-dependent variations in the rate of Li usage at a single point. For the Cu/NMC and Mo/NMC batteries, it was observed that the initial plating of Li occurred in a very homogeneous manner but that severe macroscopic inhomogeneity arose on a mm-scale during the subsequent stripping of Li, contrasting with the conventional wisdom that the greatest challenges in Li metal batteries are associated with Li deposition.
  5. Many recent studies have highlighted the timescale for stress relaxation of biomaterials on the microscale as an important factor in regulating a number of cell-material interactions, including cell spreading, proliferation, and differentiation. Relevant timescales on the order of 0.1–100 s have been suggested by several studies. While such timescales are accessible through conventional mechanical rheology, several biomaterials have heterogeneous structures, and stress relaxation mechanisms of the bulk material may not correspond to that experienced in the cellular microenvironment. Here we employ X-ray photon correlation spectroscopy (XPCS) to explore the temperature-dependent dynamics, relaxation time, and microrheology of multicomponent hydrogels comprising of commercial poly(ethylene oxide)–poly(propylene oxide)–poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO–PPO–PEO) triblock copolymer F127 and alginate. Previous studies on this system have shown thermoreversible behavior in the bulk oscillatory shear rheology. At physiological temperatures, bulk rheology of these samples shows behavior characteristic of a soft solid, with G ′ > G ′′ and no crossover between G ′ and G ′′ over the measurable frequency range, indicating a relaxation time >125 s. By contrast, XPCS-based microrheology shows viscoelastic behavior at low frequencies, and XPCS-derived correlation functions show relaxation times ranging from 10–45 s on smaller length scales. Thus, we are able to use XPCS tomore »effectively probe the viscoelasticity and relaxation behavior within the material microenvironments.« less