Highlight Publications 2019

Correlated interfacial water transport and proton conductivity in perfluorosulfonic acid membranes
Xiao Ling, Mischa Bonn, Katrin F. Domke, and Sapun H. Parekh
Correlated interfacial water transport and proton conductivity in perfluorosulfonic acid membranes
Fuel cell proton exchange membranes (PEMs) are central to hydrogen fuel cell technology. The mechanism and optimization of proton transport in these materials is intimately linked with hydration and water transport. Studies of water transport in PEMs have previously been limited to macroscopic permeability measurements. Our real-time vibrational microscopy experiments connect the macroscopic proton transport in PEMs to the molecular water arrangement: Two distinct types of water, differing in their degree of molecular coordination, transit the membrane at very different rates. The more weakly coordinated water species consistently exhibits faster transit across five different PEMs and shows a direct correlation to the proton conductivity, suggesting that designing PEMs to maximize the fraction of under-coordinated water is key for maximizing overall transport.
© Sapun Parekh (2019)
The correlation between proton- and water transport in fuel cell membranes has been discovered using time-resolved Raman microscopy
Prevention of Dominant IgG Adsorption on Nanocarriers in IgG‐Enriched Blood Plasma by Clusterin Precoating
Domenik Prozeller, Jorge Pereira, Johanna Simon, Volker Mailänder, Svenja Morsbach, Katharina Landfester
Prevention of Dominant IgG Adsorption on Nanocarriers in IgG‐Enriched Blood Plasma by Clusterin Precoating
Nanocarriers for medical applications must work reliably within organisms, independent of the individual differences in the blood proteome. Variation in the blood proteome, such as immunoglobulin levels, is a result of environmental, nutrition, and constitution conditions. This variation, however, should not influence the behavior of nanocarriers in biological media. The composition of the protein corona is investigated to understand the influence varying immunoglobulin levels in the blood plasma have on the interactions with nanocarriers. Specifically, the composition of the nanocarriers' coronas is analyzed after incubation in plasma with normal or elevated immunoglobulin G (IgG) levels, and cellular uptake is monitored in cell lines containing different immunoglobulin receptors. Here, it is reported that upon doubling the IgG concentration in plasma, the IgG fraction in the protein corona increases by a factor of 40 independent of the nanocarrier material. This results in a significant increase in uptake in cells exhibiting IgG binding receptors. Furthermore, precoating nanocarriers with clusterin successfully prevents dominant IgG‐adsorption and additionally reduces cellular internalization, after incubation with IgG‐enriched plasma. Therefore, precoating nanocarriers may be utilized as a powerful method to reduce the influence of individual variations in blood composition on the protein corona.
© Wiley-VCH, Advanced Science (2019)
Clusterin shields nanocarriers from adsorption of immunoglobulins in blood plasma with elevated IgG levels.
The Surface of Ice under Equilibrium and Nonequilibrium Conditions
Yuki Nagata, Tetsuya Hama, Ellen H. G. Backus, Markus Mezger, Daniel Bonn, Mischa Bonn, and Gen Sazaki
The Surface of Ice under Equilibrium and Nonequilibrium Conditions
How does ice surface look like? How does ice surface vary with temperature? How do molecules adsorbed into the ice? Why is ice surface slippery? A review article focusing on sum-frequency generation spectroscopy, molecular dynamics simulation, and confocal microscopy reveal the presence of different quasi-liquid states; disordered layer, quasi-liquid droplet, and quasi-liquid film. We overview how these different quasi-liquid states emerge and how these affects the gas uptakes and ice friction.
© Yuki Nagata / MPI-P (2019)
Ice structure changes with temperature
Disentangling the Role of Chain Conformation on the Mechanics of Polymer Tethered Particle Materials
Jiarul Midya, Yu Cang, Sergei A. Egorov, Krzysztof Matyjaszewski, Michael R. Bockstaller, Arash Nikoubashman, and George Fytas
Disentangling the Role of Chain Conformation on the Mechanics of Polymer Tethered Particle Materials
MPIP researchers in collaboration with Dr. Midya, Dr. Nikoubashman (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz), Prof. Egorov (University of Virginia), Prof. Bockstaller and Prof. Matyjaszewski (Carnegie Mellon University) revealed the role of chain conformation on the mechanics of one-component nanocomposites. Polymer-tethered nanoparticle (alternatively called brush particle) assemblies represent a novel class of materials with unprecedented combinations of properties. The grafted polymer chains effectively control the particle interactions, and hence are instrumental for overcoming the phase separation issue in two-component nanocomposites. To achieve the desired material properties and further advance the opportunities presented by brush particle systems, understanding the microscopic origin of macroscopic properties is crucial. However, despite recent scientific efforts there remain still many open questions, especially regarding the mechanical behavior in one-component systems. In this work, we complement experimental non-invasive Brillouin light spectroscopy measurements with microscopically resolved molecular dynamics simulations to elucidate the role of graft architecture in the elasticity of brush particle systems. The experimental results revealed a significant mechanical reinforcement in the sparsely grafted nanoparticles compared to the systems with almost same particle loading but dense and short chains. Our simulations demonstrated that the stiffening is caused by the coil-like conformations of the sparsely grafted long chains, which led to significantly stronger polymer-polymer interactions compared to densely grafted NPs. Our results offer novel opportunities to tailor physical properties of composite materials by the strategic design of the ‘molecular architecture’ of constituents.
© Katharina Maisenbacher (2019)
Schematic figure of mechanical reinforcement found in a sparsely grafted particle film compared to a system with same particle loading but grafted with dense and short chains.
Engineering of robust topological quantum phases in graphene nanoribbons
Oliver Gröning, Shiyong Wang, Xuelin Yao, Carlo A. Pignedoli, Gabriela Borin Barin, Colin Daniels, Andrew Cupo, Vincent Meunier, Xinliang Feng, Akimitsu Narita, Klaus Müllen, Pascal Ruffieux & Roman Fasel
Engineering of robust topological quantum phases in graphene nanoribbons
Boundaries between distinct topological phases of matter support robust, yet exotic quantum states such as spin–momentum locked transport channels or Majorana fermions. It is desirable to rationally engineer topological electronic phases into stable and processable materials to exploit the corresponding quantum states. Here we present a flexible strategy based on atomically precise graphene nanoribbons to design robust nanomaterials exhibiting the topological boundary states. Namely, when the width of a narrow graphene nanoribbon changes, in the current case from seven to nine atoms, a special zone is created at the transition: because the electronic properties of the two areas differ in a special, so-called topological way, a "protected" and thus very robust new quantum state is created in the transition zone. We demonstrate the controlled periodic coupling of topological boundary states at junctions of graphene nanoribbons with armchair edges to create quasi-one-dimensional trivial and non-trivial electronic quantum phases. The topological end states occur at the ends of certain graphene nanoribbon segments. This offers the possibility of using them as elements of so-called qubits for the application in a quantum computer.
© Oliver Gröning (2019)
When graphene nanoribbons contain sections of varying width, robust new quantum states can be created in the transition zone.
Single photon emission from graphene quantum dots at room temperature
Shen Zhao, Julien Lavie, Loïc Rondin, Lucile Orcin-Chaix, Carole Diederichs, Philippe Roussignol, Yannick Chassagneux, Christophe Voisin, Klaus Müllen, Akimitsu Narita, Stéphane Campidelli & Jean-Sébastien Lauret
Single photon emission from graphene quantum dots at room temperature
Graphene being a zero-gap material, considerable efforts have been made to develop semiconductors whose structure is compatible with its hexagonal lattice. Size reduction is a promising way to achieve this objective. The reduction of both dimensions of graphene leads to graphene quantum dots. Here, we report on a single-emitter study that directly addresses the intrinsic emission properties of graphene quantum dots. In particular, we show that they are efficient and stable single-photon emitters at room temperature and that their emission wavelength can be modified through the functionalization of their edges. Finally, the investigation of the intersystem crossing shows that the short triplet lifetime and the low crossing yield are in agreement with the high brightness of these quantum emitters. These results represent a step-forward in performing chemistry engineering for the design of quantum emitters.
© Jean-Sébastien Lauret (2019)
Emission of single photons from graphene quantum dot C96. Second-order correlation function showed a strong antibunching.
Polyhedral Liquid Marbles
Florian Geyer, Yuta Asaumi, Doris Vollmer, Hans-Jürgen Butt, Yoshinobu Nakamura, and Syuji Fujii
Polyhedral Liquid Marbles
A new type of armored droplet, a so-called polyhedral liquid marble, is introduced. These liquid marbles consist of liquid droplets stabilized by hydrophobic hexagonal plates made of poly(ethylene terephthalate), which adsorb to the liquid–air interface. Depending on the specific combination of plate size and droplet diameter, the plates self-assemble into highly ordered hexagonally arranged domains. Even tetrahedral-, pentahedral-, and cube-shaped liquid marbles composed of only 4 to 6 plates are demonstrated. During evaporation of the internal liquid, due to the high adsorption energy of the plates at the liquid–air interface, the overall surface area stays constant, resulting in strongly deformed polyhedral liquid marbles. In line with this, highly asymmetric polyhedral liquid marbles and letters are obtained due to the strong interfacial jamming exerted by the rigid hexagonal plates. This is particularly pronounced for larger plate sizes, leading to liquid marbles with unusually sharp edges (for example, rectangular edges). The polyhedral liquid marbles exhibit various stimuli-responsive behaviors simultaneously being exposed to water, ammonia, or tetrahydrofuran vapors. Air-driven polyhedral liquid marbles floating on water can reach velocities of several centimeters per second.
© MPI-P / Wiley-VCH (2019)
Polyhedral liquid marbles prepared using 2.48 mm sized hexagonal plates and 15 µL dyed water droplets (left) and solidified polyhedral liquid marble using cyanoacrylate (right).
Chemisorption of Atomically Precise 42-Carbon Graphene Quantum Dots on Metal Oxide Films Greatly Accelerates Interfacial Electron Transfer
Peng Han, Ian Cheng-Yi Hou, Hao Lu, Xiao-Ye Wang, Klaus Müllen, Mischa Bonn, Akimitsu Narita, Enrique Cánovas
Chemisorption of Atomically Precise 42-Carbon Graphene Quantum Dots on Metal Oxide Films Greatly Accelerates Interfacial Electron Transfer
Atomically precise graphene quantum dots (GQDs) are graphene nanostructures which have size-dependent band-gaps; furthermore, they are metal-free and hence low-cost and environmentally friendly. These features make GQDs promising building blocks in novel solar energy conversion schemes, e.g. constituting a promising alternative to organometallic dyes employed in sensitized solar cells. However, current GQD-based sensitized solar cells are characterized by modest efficiencies; which were correlated with the low affinity towards the oxide electrode of the employed physisorbed GQDs sensitizers. Here we demonstrate that chemisorption of atomically precise GQDs onto mesoporous metal oxides, enabled by their functionalization with a carboxylate group, substantially enhances electron collection in the metal oxide electrode. Chemisorption boost electron transfer rates by almost 2 orders of magnitude when compared with physisorbed sensitizers. The accelerated interfacial electron transfer can be traced to stronger donor−acceptor coupling strength enabled by chemisorption.
© ACS / MPI-P (2019)
How to Coat the Inside of Narrow and Long Tubes with a Super-Liquid-Repellent Layer — A Promising Candidate for Antibacterial Catheters
Florian Geyer, Maria D’Acunzi, Ching-Yu Yang, Michael Müller, Philipp Baumli, Anke Kaltbeitzel, Volker Mailänder, Noemí Encinas, Doris Vollmer, and Hans-Jürgen Butt
How to Coat the Inside of Narrow and Long Tubes with a Super-Liquid-Repellent Layer — A Promising Candidate for Antibacterial Catheters
Fouling of thin tubes is a major problem, leading to various infections and associated morbidities, while cleaning is difficult or even impossible. Here, a generic method is introduced to activate and coat the inside of meter-long and at the same time thin (down to 1 mm) tubes with a super-liquid-repellent layer of nanofilaments, exhibiting even antibacterial properties. Activation is facilitated by pumping an oxidative Fenton solution through the tubes. Subsequent pumping of a silane solution renders the surface of the tubes super-liquid-repellent. The wide applicability of the method is demonstrated by coating stiff and flexible tubes made of polymers, inorganic/organic hybrids, metals, and ceramics. Coated medical catheters show excellent antibacterial properties. Notably, the nanofilaments retain their antibacterial properties even in the superhydrophilic state. These findings open new avenues toward the design of biocide-free, antibacterial tubings and catheters.
© MPI-P / Wiley-VCH (2019) (2019)
SEM images of a coated LDPE tube with a total length of 2 m and an inner diameter of 1 mm at both endings and the middle of the tube (top). Formation of nanofilaments was observed at all positions. A 2 μL blood plasma drop showed very low adhesion to a coated tube and was easily removed from it (bottom).
Direct observation of gas meniscus formation on a superhydrophobic surface
Mimmi Eriksson, Mikko Tuominen, Mikael Järn, Per Martin Claesson, Viveca Wallqvist, Hans-Jürgen Butt, Doris Vollmer, Michael Kappl, Joachim Schoelkopf, Patrick A. C. Gane, Hannu Teisala, and Agne Swerin
Direct observation of gas meniscus formation on a superhydrophobic surface
Handling of fine powders in industry is often strongly affected by interparticle forces. While van der Waals interaction is always present, capillary forces become dominating in the presence of humidity due to the formation of a water meniscus. The long range interactions between hydrophobic surfaces have been attributed to the existence of nanobubbles. Formation of a bridging meniscus between these nanobubbles leads to an interaction range in the order of tens to hundreds of nanometers. However, on superhydrophobic coatings attractive interactions of more than 10 µm have been observed. By combining laser scanning confocal microscopy and colloidal probe force microscopy, we image and quantify the formation and growth of a gas meniscus during force measurements between a superhydrophobic surface and a hydrophobic microsphere immersed in water. Our data show that the super long-range attractive interactions acting on separation are due to meniscus formation and volume growth as air is transported from the surface layer.
© Mimmi Eriksson (2019)
Surface Chemistry Enhancements for the Tunable Super-Liquid Repellency of Low-Surface-Tension Liquids
William S. Y. Wong
Surface Chemistry Enhancements for the Tunable Super-Liquid Repellency of Low-Surface-Tension Liquids
The recent advent of superamphi(omni)phobicity has paradoxically demonstrated immense promise but equally severe challenges. Here, to achieve these high-performing superlyophobic states, a paradigm-shift from the traditional use of specific re-entrant geometry is demonstrated through stepwise, tunable enhancements in surface functionalization. Network fluoro-functionalized nanoparticles realized super liquid repelling properties with various low surface tension liquids, tested to a performance limit with n-decane at 23.8 mN/m.
© MPI-P / ANU (2019)
 
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