Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory have developed a new microscopy approach for imaging gel nanocomposites in their natural state, which will reveal more useful information about their assembly and properties.
Researchers are excited about imaging nanoparticles in poloxamers, a group of oddly-behaving polymer materials that are liquid at low temperature and a gel at higher temperatures. Because of their interesting phase behavior, these gels show promise in potentially acting as a matrix medium for arrangement of nanoparticles within these gels to obtain materials with interesting optical properties. However, currently, it is very difficult to image nanoparticles within a gel environment.
Colleagues used a molecular printer to deposit miniscule (femtoliter, one quadrillionth of a liter) volumes of poloxamer combined with gold nanoparticles, and observe them under controlled temperature and humidity.
The research is further discussed in the paper “New approach to electron microscopy imaging of gel nanocomposites in situ,” authored by Alejandra Londono-Caleron, Skrikanth Nayak, Curtis L. Mosher, Surya K. Mallapragada, and Tanya Prozorov; and published in Micron.
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