Surface science is a highly complex field that spans multiple disciplines and is related to the chemical and physical interactions that take place when two phases come together. These interfaces can be solid-vacuum, liquid-gas, solid-liquid, solid-gas, etc. This article will outline some of the basic elements of surface science and how it is used.
What is Material Characterization?
Material characterization enables researchers to determine the structure of a material, how this structure relates to its macroscopic properties, and how it will behave in technological applications.
Developing a new medicine and bringing it to market is a long, difficult and expensive process. This process begins with drug discovery: the unearthing of promising compounds which demonstrate some beneficial biological effect. Compound screening is the primary method by which initial drug discovery is carried out.
Spectroscopy is a broad field that comprises several different sub-disciplines and a wide array of techniques, each of which uses highly specialized equipment. This blog post explores five of the most popular types of spectroscopy.
Functional metal coatings are increasingly important in research settings, enabling scientists to modulate the surface properties of different substrates to suit specific experiment parameters. Yet coated microscope slides are not a new phenomenon. Biochemists and life scientists have long exploited polymeric coatings like epoxy resin, gelatine, poly-L-lysine, and various silanes to promote better adhesion between organic samples and a substrate. Custom metal coatings are a natural progression of polymer-coated microscope slides for a more precise era of life science microscopy.
New human health challenges arise in response to an array of geopolitical and socioeconomical factors including radical global population growth, paradigm shifts in social behaviour, or increased urbanization and loss of land for agriculture. This creates unique opportunities for innovators and original manufacturers (OEMs) who are willing to collaborate and deliver solutions to the next generation of environmental and human health problems.
Industries in which nanoparticles can interfere with manufacturing processes need to use a clean room to maintain the utmost accuracy. Cleanrooms control the humidity, contamination, temperature, and pressure of facilities.
Patterned thin films have had an enormous impact on modern technology, and though semiconducting elements typically grab the spotlight, metal surfaces have played a crucial role in various advanced applications such as materials characterization, biosensors, chemical sensors and microelectro-mechanical systems (MEMS).
Surface patterning describes fabrication methods which modify substrates with extreme precision.
The need for detailed surface structures is becoming increasingly common for scientists across a range of disciplines and there are many means with which these surface patterns can be created.
In this blog, we discuss surface patterning with shadow masks, an important tool for fabricating thin film components for microelectronics in a rapid and repeatable manner.
Surface patterning is the general term used to describe any fabrication method for modifying a substrate with extremely fine precision. Producing detailed surface structures with microscale features is now a matter of course for scientists and engineers in a wide range of application areas. As with any new manufacturing paradigm, there are various technical routes for creating precision surface patterns. Selecting the best surface patterning method can subsequently be a difficult choice.
One of the main problems in microscopy is the movement of the specimen from beam irradiation during imaging which can lead to low-resolution images which are blurred. Carbon films on metal grids can cause this specimen drift. Using gold thin films instead of carbon can stop the drift as they are chemically inert and biocompatible, less fragile, extremely conductive and non-oxidizing. Gold thin metal films are often seen as the most significant signal amplification components in electrochemical and optical sensor applications. In surface plasmon resonance (SPR) applications, gold thin metal film has electron densities which have the plasmon frequencies in the visible light range.
Photolithography is an important microfabrication technique used to pattern substrates for modern electronics, sensors, and microfluidics. It is a precise form of custom surface fabrication where the interface of a wafer is coated with a light-sensitive polymer known as a photoresist. The coated wafer is then exposed to light which is selectively attenuated by a mask, leaving behind a latent image which is chemically, physically, or optically etched to provide a permanent micro-structured pattern on the wafer’s surface. Coupled with metal deposition and etching techniques, photolithography is a versatile method for fabricating microstructures for optics, chemical and bio-sensors, and microfluidic devices.
Small-scale patterned electrodes for scientific micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) are intricate parts usually created by additive manufacturing (AM). At Platypus Technologies, we generate patterned gold thin films on glass created via e-beam metal evaporation using a titanium adhesion layer to enhance the mechanical stability of the film.
A field effect transistor (FET) is a key electronic component that is used throughout numerous areas of the electronics industry. FETs are largely used within integrated circuits, consuming much lower levels of power than integrated circuits using bipolar transistor technology meaning they can be used on a much larger scale.
A scanning electron microscope (SEM) scans a focused electron beam over a surface to produce an image. The electrons in the beam interact with the sample, creating differing signals that can be employed to gain information about the surface topography and composition.
A biosensor is an analytical device which is usually used to detect a chemical substance. They combine a biological component with a physicochemical conductor and are usually constructed of three segments; sensor, transducer and associated electrons.
Additive manufacturing (AM) is a growing engineering paradigm that enables technicians to produce a wide range of intricate, prototypical parts. Among these are small-scale patterned electrodes for scientific micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS).
Infrared spectroscopy, typically infrared reflection absorption spectroscopy (IRRAS), is the favoured method used to characterise ultrathin layers like self-assembled monolayers. When infrared moves through a sample, some radiation is absorbed and some is transmitted. IR detectors acquire these characteristic signals to generate a spectrum which represents the sample’s molecular fingerprint. This highlights the inherent value of IR spectroscopy; it can be used to elucidate molecular compositions as a function of characteristic absorption/transmission spectra.
What can we use to probe sample surfaces beyond visible light? Electron beams are ideal for powerful magnifications many orders of magnitude greater than that of optical microscopy. But when we are dealing with resolutions of nanometre (nm) and sub-nm proportions, resolving power isn’t the final word. This is partly because researchers are spoilt for choice when it comes to molecular-scale imaging solutions.
Nanostructured thin films have been instrumental in pushing the boundaries of modern electronics and technology. They form one of the cornerstones of key devices in virtually any market that comes to mind, from consumer electronics to ultra-resolution microscopy.