RTNN Hosts NNCI REU Convocation

Last month, the RTNN welcomed over 50 guests to Raleigh at the annual NNCI REU Convocation. Participants came from NNCI sites across the country to share their summer research projects with their peers as well as RTNN faculty, staff, and students. The event kicked off with a scavenger hunt where students searched NC State for a variety of landmarks. Attendees also participated in professional development activities that included updates to their LinkedIn profiles and learning how to effectively communicate science to the public. Poster sessions were held on the campuses of Duke and UNC to give students a broader perspective of nanotechnology in the Research Triangle. The entire agenda can be found here and all of the event talks are posted here.




AIF now home to compact microCT system

The Analytical Instrumentation Facility (AIF) is now home to a Bruker SkyScan 1174 microCT system. This compact microCT can be used to image a variety of samples in three-dimensions with down to 10 micron spatial resolution. A suite of software tools is  included with the system for complex image reconstruction, processing, and analysis. Several example images can be found here, and the specs are listed below. The instrument will be available for both research and outreach activities by early October. For more information on training and access, please contact Maude Cuchiara.

X-ray source 20-50kV, 40W maximum power, filter holder for energy selection
X-ray detector 1.3Mp CCD coupled to scintillator by lens with 1:6 zoom range
Spatial Resolution 6…30 µm pixel size, approximately 10 µm low-contract resolution
Object Size 5 – 30mm in diameter, 50mm in length (50mm vertical travel)
Radiation safety <1 µSv/h at 10cm from the instrument surface


Phillip Strader Wins NNCI User Support Award

Our congratulations go out to Phillip Strader for winning an inaugural national award from the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure (NNCI) in the category of User Support!

Phillip is an RTNN project scientist through NC State’s Department of MSE and a lab manager at AIF. His nomination was particularly noteworthy because of his leadership in securing and commissioning new instruments and his thoughtful execution of the RTNN Kickstarter program.

Keep up the good work!

Rigaku SmartLab X-ray Diffractometer coming soon to CHANL

CHANL is thrilled to offer powder and thin film x-ray diffraction with a new Rigaku SmartLab X-ray diffractometer (XRD). This system is capable of grazing angle measurements for measuring diffraction from thin films and possesses an in-plane diffraction arm for measuring crystalline planes perpendicular to the sample surface. Samples with periodicity on length scales up to 100 nm can be characterized with the SAXS unit, and micro area measurements with spot sizes as small as 100 μm are also possible.  Rocking curves, pole figures, and reflectivity measurements are all available with this system, which is also equipped with a HyPix-3000 2D detector. A number of sample stages allowing for sample heating and cooling (-100ºC to 1,000ºC) and environmental control (inert atmosphere, vacuum, reactive gas) are available for interesting in situ measurements. The SmartLab Guidance software makes these measurements easy to implement as it guides users to install the correct optical components, and walks them through the appropriate alignments before measurements begin. Powerful analysis software includes access to the ICDD PDF2 database, allows for Rietveld whole pattern fitting, and 2D pattern analysis.

If you would like additional information about this tool, please email Carrie Donley (cdonley@email.unc.edu).

Researchers Use Gold Nanoparticles to Unfold 3-D Structures

Researchers at NC State have developed a technique that uses nanoparticles, nanospheres and nanorods, to trigger shape changes in polymers. These differently shaped nanoparticles exhibit different surface plasmon resonances and will heat when exposed to specific wavelengths of light. When embedded in polymers, this causes the material to heat and change its shape. This work has the potential for use in soft robotics applications like biomedical implants. For more on this work, please see the NC State press release.

Sequential Actuation of Shape-Memory Polymers through Wavelength-Selective Photothermal Heating of Gold Nanospheres and Nanorods

Authors: Sumeet R. Mishra and Joseph B. Tracy, North Carolina State University

Published: June 15, Applied Nano Materials

DOI: 10.1021/acsanm.8b00394

Abstract: Photothermal triggering of shape-memory polymers is an appealing noncontact mode of actuation for responsive materials and soft robotics. Wavelength-selective photothermal triggering of shape recovery is reported in thermoplastic polyurethane shape-memory polymers with embedded gold (Au) nanospheres and nanorods. Light-emitting diodes with wavelengths of 530 and 860 nm matched to the surface plasmon resonances drive selective shape recovery. Wavelength-selective shape recovery enables sequential actuation, as demonstrated in a wavelength-controlled stage with optically controlled height and tilt angle using legs of shape-memory-polymer films with embedded Au nanospheres and nanorods.