Presentation - Chemical and Structural Nanoscopy of Biological and Non-Biological Materials, EuroNanoForum 2013

Foysal Khan's picture




Real time chemical and structural imaging at nanoscale and under ambient conditions has been considered critical to enable ‘safe, reliable and superior’ commercial products [1]. The metrology of bio-nanotechnology is thus gaining increasing importance due to the inroad of bio-nano products such as glucose sensors, antimicrobial socks and textiles in the market and the near market and trial stages of products such as nanomedicine for cancer therapy[1]. A quick survey of the current state of the art microscopy and imaging techniques will reveal that there is no single technique applicable to bio-nano metrology, issues related to which area priority research agenda in the area of nanometrology [2]. For example, far field optical vibrational spectroscopy based imaging tools such as Infra Red (IR) and Raman microscopy have been widely used in chemical and structural imaging. Lateral resolutions of these techniques used in the far-field are currently diffraction-limited and are restricted to the micrometre range. We have recently proposed a framework [3] that will break away from the diffraction limit of IR and a lateral resolution of over one thirteenth of the wavelength will be possible. This novel imaging tool, the Infra Red Nanoscope (IRN) achieves a significant improvement over the resolution (~70-200 nm) that can be achieved currently with table-top IR microscopes (~100 um) and or synchrotron-based IR microscopes (~2 um). IRN will also incorporate 3Dimensional (3D) imaging, which is currently not possible in IR microscopy.

This presentation will introduce to the concept of IRN and how it will allow us to advance the understanding of biological processes at the sub-cellular level, such as those involving biomarkers produced in early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, therapeutic pathways in treating lung cancers, and the fate of nanoparticles in biological systems. In addition to these biological applications, IRN will also be relevant to the emerging nano-enabled industrial production, where the ability of real-time nanoscale imaging of nanomaterials, interfaces, defects and irregularities is critical for robust quality control of industrially important products e.g. organic photovoltaic (OPV) devices, antimicrobial textiles and functional coatings on biomedical implants. IRN overcomes the limitations of contemporary imaging tools and offers an integrated imaging and characterisation tools through 3D imaging and spectroscopy for reliable in situ, chemical and structural analysis at the nanometre scale. This will support the optimisation of nanotechnology-based industrial processes such as electrical energy harvesting and storage [4].


[1] H. Bosse et al, Nanometrology Foresight Review, 9 December 2009.

[2] National Nanotechnology Coordination Office, 2006, Instrumentation and Metrology for Nanotechnology: Report of the National Nanotechnology Initiative Workshop, Jan. 27-29, 2004.

[3] Silien, C., Liu, N., Hendaoui, N., Tofail, S.A.M., Peremans, A., Optics Express. 20 (8), 29694-29704 (2012).

[4] United States Department of Energy. Basic Research Needs for Electrical Energy Storage – Report of the Basic Energy Sciences Workshop for Electrical Energy Storage. 2007.

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