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The accuracy to which Cu and Al coatings can be determined, and the effect this has on the quantification of the substrate, is investigated. Cu and Al coatings of nominally 5, 10, 15, and 20 nm were sputter coated onto polished Bi using two configurations of coater: One with the film thickness monitor (FTM) sensor colocated with the samples, and one where the sensor is located to one side. The FTM thicknesses are compared against those calculated from measured Cu Lα and Al Kα k-ratios using PENEPMA, GMRFilm, and DTSA-II. Selected samples were also cross-sectioned using focused ion beam. Both systems produced repeatable coatings, the thickest coating being approximately four times the thinnest coating. The side-located FTM sensor indicated thicknesses less than half those of the software modeled results, propagating on to 70% errors in substrate quantification at 5 kV. The colocated FTM sensor produced errors in film thickness and substrate quantification of 10–20%. Over the range of film thicknesses and accelerating voltages modeled both the substrate and coating k-ratios can be approximated by linear trends as functions of film thickness. The Al films were found to have a reduced density of ~2 g/cm2.
The ability to characterize recombination and carrier trapping processes in group-III nitride-based nanowires is vital to further improvements in their overall efficiencies. While advances in scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM)-based cathodoluminescence (CL) have offered some insight into nanowire behavior, inconsistencies in nanowire emission along with CL detector limitations have resulted in the incomplete understanding in nanowire emission processes. Here, two nanowire heterostructures were explored with STEM-CL: a polarization-graded AlGaN nanowire light-emitting diode (LED) with a GaN quantum disk and a polarization-graded AlGaN nanowire with three different InGaN quantum disks. Most nanowires explored in this study did not emit. For the wires that did emit in both structures, they exhibited asymmetrical emission consistent with the polarization-induced electric fields in the barrier regions of the nano-LEDs. In the AlGaN/InGaN sample, two of the quantum disks exhibited no emission potentially due to the three-dimensional landscape of the sample or due to limitations in the CL detection.
Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) with low-energy electrons has been recognized as an important addition to the family of electron microscopies as it may avoid knock-on damage and increase the contrast of weakly scattering objects. Scanning electron microscopes (SEMs) are well suited for low-energy electron microscopy with maximum electron energies of 30 keV, but they are mainly used for topography imaging of bulk samples. Implementation of a scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) detector and a charge-coupled-device camera for the acquisition of on-axis transmission electron diffraction (TED) patterns, in combination with recent resolution improvements, make SEMs highly interesting for structure analysis of some electron-transparent specimens which are traditionally investigated by TEM. A new aspect is correlative SEM, STEM, and TED imaging from the same specimen region in a SEM which leads to a wealth of information. Simultaneous image acquisition gives information on surface topography, inner structure including crystal defects and qualitative material contrast. Lattice-fringe resolution is obtained in bright-field STEM imaging. The benefits of correlative SEM/STEM/TED imaging in a SEM are exemplified by structure analyses from representative sample classes such as nanoparticulates and bulk materials.
To better understand the formation and evolution of hierarchical crack networks in shales, observations of microscopic damage, and crack growth were conducted using an in situ tensile apparatus inside a scanning electron microscope. An arched specimen with an artificial notch incised into the curved edge was shown to afford effective observation of the damage and crack growth process that occurs during the brittle fracturing of shale. Because this arched specimen design can induce a squeezing effect, reducing the tensile stress concentration at the crack tip, and preventing the brittle shale from unstable fracturing to some extent. Both induced and natural pores and cracks were observed at different scales around the main crack path or on fractured surfaces. Observations indicate that the crack initiation zone develops around the crack tip where tensile stresses are concentrated and micro/nanoscale cracks nucleate. Crack advancement generally occurs by the continuous generation and coalescence of damage zones having intermittent en echelon microscopic cracks located ahead of the crack tips. Mineral anisotropy and pressure build-up around crack tips causes crack kinking, deflection, and branching. Crack growth is often accompanied by the cessation or closure of former branch cracks due to elastic recovery and induced compressive stress. The branching and interactions of cracks form a three-dimensional hierarchical network that includes induced branch cracks having similar paths, as well as natural structures such as nanopores, bedding planes, and microscopic cracks.
Automated phase maps are an important tool for characterizing samples but the data quality must be evaluated. Common options include the overlay of phases on backscattered electron (BSE) images and phase composition averages and standard deviations. Both these methods have major limitations. We propose two methods of evaluation involving principal component analysis. First, a red–green–blue composite image of the first three principal components, which comprise the majority of the chemical variation, which provides a good reference against which phase maps can be compared. Advantages over a BSE image include discriminating between similar mean atomic number phases and sensitivity across the entire range of mean atomic numbers present in a sample. Second, principal component maps for identified phases, to examine for chemical variation within phases. This ensures the identification of unclassified phases and provides the analyst with information regarding the chemical heterogeneity of phases (e.g., chemical zoning within a mineral or mineral chemistry changing across an alteration zone). Spatial information permits a good understanding of heterogeneity within a phase and allows analytical artifacts to be easily identified. These methods of evaluation were tested on a complex geological sample. K-means clustering and K-nearest neighbor algorithms were used for phase classification, with the evaluation methods demonstrating their limitations.
In this work we analyzed the effect of the atomic force microscopy probe tip apex shape on Kelvin Probe Force Microscopy (KPFM) potential sensitivity and spatial resolution. It was found that modification of the apex shape from spherical to planar upon thinning of the conductive coating leads to enhanced apex contribution to the total electrostatic force between the probe and the sample. The effect results in extended potential sensitivity and spatial resolution of KPFM. Experimental results were supported by calculations.
The effects of betaine on hepatocytes chromatin architecture changes were examined by using fractal and gray-level co-occurrence matrix (GLCM) analysis in methionine/choline-deficient (MCD) diet-induced, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Male C57BL/6 mice were divided into groups: (1) Control: standard diet; (2) BET: standard diet and betaine supplementation through drinking water (solution 1.5%); (3) MCD group: MCD diet for 6 weeks; (4) MCD+BET: fed with MCD diet + betaine for 6 weeks. Liver tissue was collected for histopathology, immunohistochemistry, and determination of fractal dimension and GLCM parameters. MCD diet induced diffuse micro- and macrovesicular steatosis accompanied with increased Ki67-positive hepatocyte nuclei. Steatosis and Ki67 immunopositivity were less prominent in the MCD+BET group compared with the MCD group. Angular second moment (ASM) and inverse difference moment (IDM) (textural homogeneity markers) were significantly increased in the MCD+BET group versus the MCD group (p<0.001), even though no difference between the MCD and the control group was evident. Heterogeneity parameters, contrast, and correlation were significantly increased in the MCD group versus the control (p<0.001). On the other hand, betaine treatment significantly reduced correlation, contrast, and entropy compared with the MCD group (p<0.001). Betaine attenuated MCD diet-induced NAFLD by reducing fat accumulation and inhibiting hepatocyte proliferation. Betaine supplementation increased nuclear homogeneity and chromatin complexity with reduction of entropy, contrast, and correlation.
Spiders are natural specialists in fiber processing. In particular, cribellate spiders manifest this ability as they produce a wool of nanofibers to capture prey. During its production they deploy a sophisticated movement of their spinnerets to darn in the fibers as well as a comb-like row of setae, termed calamistrum, on the metatarsus which plays a key role in nanofiber processing. In comparison to the elaborate nanofiber extraction and handling process by the spider’s calamistrum, the human endeavors of spinning and handling of artificial nanofibers is still a primitive technical process. An implementation of biomimetics in spinning technology could lead to new materials and applications. Despite the general progress in related fields of nanoscience, the expected leap forward in spinning technology depends on a better understanding of the specific shapes and surfaces that control the forces at the nanoscale and that are involved in the mechanical processing of the nanofibers, respectively. In this study, the authors investigated the morphology of the calamistrum of the cribellate spider Uloborus plumipes. Focused ion beam and scanning electron microscopy tomography provided a good image contrast and the best trade-off between investigation volume and spatial resolution. A comprehensive three-dimensional model is presented and the putative role of the calamistrum in nanofiber processing is discussed.
The advancement of human retinal pigment epithelial cell (hRPE) replacement therapy is partly dependent on optimization of cell culture, cell preservation, and storage medium. This study was undertaken to search for a suitable storage temperature and storage medium for hRPE. hRPE monolayer sheets were cultured under standard conditions at 37°C and then randomized for storage at six temperatures (4, 16, 20, 24, 28, and 37°C) for 7 days. After revealing a suitable storage temperature, hRPE sheets were subsequently stored with and without the silk protein sericin added to the storage medium. Live/dead assay, light microscopy, pH, and phenotypic expression of various proteins were used to assess cell cultures stored at different temperatures. After 7 days of storage, hRPE morphology was best preserved at 4°C. Addition of sericin to the storage medium maintained the characteristic morphology of the preserved cells, and improved pigmentation and levels of pigmentation-related proteins in the cultured hRPE sheets following a 7-day storage period at 4°C.
Green culms of bamboo and charcoal of Bambusa multiplex were investigated by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) mapping. A dynamic observation of the initial stage of carbonization was also performed in-situ by heating a radial longitudinal section of the bamboo culm at a rate of 20°C/min up to 500°C. EDS mapping of the green bamboo culms detected Si signals in the harder cells such as the epidermis (Ep), cortex (Cor) and vascular bundle sheath (Bs) and between these cells as silicon oxide particles. Appreciable morphological change of the cells occurred in a temperature range of about 300–400°C due to the decomposition of cellulose that is the main component of the bamboo cells. The charcoal of the bamboo culm has a skin layer which originates from the Ep and Cor and the main central cylinder with many openings that originate from the expanded xylem and phloem holes. During carbonization, the Si atoms in the Ep and Cor were segregated as thin silicon oxide layers onto both the sides of the skin layer and the Si included in the Bs fibers and parenchyma cells accumulated near the walls of the openings.
A scanning electron microscopy (SEM) investigation of pine (Pinus sylvestris) and oak (Quercus sp.) wood samples exposed to various types of natural degradation is presented with the aim of discussing the correct identification of multiple degradation signs in waterlogged wood. This is part of an experiment performed at the archeological site of Biskupin (Poland) to evaluate the dynamics of short-term wood degradation during reburial and the suitability of excavated wood as substrate for the fungal attack. The final aim is to support and inform the in situ conservation strategy currently applied to archeological woods. To replicate the burial conditions, wood samples were put into lake water and peat. The samples were removed from the burial environments after 4, 6, 8, and 10 years, and then exposed to laboratory-controlled attack by a brown rot fungus Coniophora puteana and a white rot fungus Coriolus versicolor. SEM images were acquired for all samples before and after the fungal attack. The results showed a slight degradation occurred in the burial environments (soft rot and bacteria). In addition, both typical and previously neglected features of fungal attack were observed, highlighting that the extent of the fungal decay varies according to the previous degree of wood degradation. Some comparisons are provided with archeological wood samples from the Biskupin site.
Polistes paper wasps can be used to monitor trace metal contaminants, but the effects of pollution on the health of these insects are still unknown. We evaluated, in a south-eastern area of Spain, whether workers of Polistes dominula collected at urban and rural sites differ in health of midgut tissue and in fluctuating asymmetry, an estimate of developmental noise. We found that wasps collected at the urban sites had abundant lead (Pb)-containing spherites, which were less visible in wasps from the rural sites. Evident ultrastructural alterations in the epithelium of the midgut of the wasps collected at the urban sites included broken and disorganized microvilli, a high amount and density of heterochromatin in the nucleus of epithelial cells, cytoplasmic vacuolization and mitochondrial disruptions. Altogether, these findings suggest a negative effect on the transmembrane transport and a less efficient transcription. On the contrary, a healthy epithelium was observed in wasps from the rural sites. These differences may be preliminarily linked with levels of lead pollution, given that wasps from urban sites had double the Pb concentrations of wasps from rural sites. Level of fluctuating asymmetry was unrelated to wasp origin, thus suggesting no link between developmental noise and Pb-driven pollution.