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Journal Articles Analytical Chemistry Year : 2016

Visualization of Diffusion within Nanoarrays


The direct experimental characterization of diffusion processes at nanoscale remains a challenge that could help elucidate processes in biology, medicine and technology. In this report, two experimental approaches were employed to visualize ion diffusion profiles at the orifices of nanopores (radius (r(a)) of 86 +/- 6 nm) in array format: (1) electrochemically assisted formation of silica deposits based on surfactant ion transfer across nanointerfaces between two immiscible electrolyte solutions (nanoITLES); (2) combined atomic force - scanning electrochemical microscopy (AFM-SECM) imaging of topography and redox species diffusion through the nanopores. The nature of the diffusion zones formed around the pores is directly related to the interpore distance within the array. Nanopore arrays with different ratios of pore center-to center separation (r(c)) to pore radius (ra) were fabricated by focused ion beam (FIB) milling of silicon nitride (SiN) membranes, with 100 pores in a hexagonal arrangement. The ion diffusion profiles determined by the two visualization methods indicated the formation of overlapped or independent diffusion profiles at nanopore arrays with r(c)/r(a) ratios of 21 +/- 2 and 91 +/- 7, respectively. In particular, the silica deposition method resulted in formation of a single deposit encompassing the complete array with closer nanopore arrangement, whereas individual silica deposits were formed around each nanopore within the more widely spaced array. The methods reveal direct experimental evidence of diffusion zones at nanopore arrays and provide practical illustration that the pore pore separation within such arrays has a significant impact on diffusional transport as the pore size is reduced to the nanoscale. These approaches to nanoscale diffusion zone visualization open up possibilities for better understanding of molecular transport processes within miniaturized systems.

Dates and versions

hal-01507495 , version 1 (13-04-2017)



Yang Liu, Angelika Holzinger, Peter Knittel, Lukasz Poltorak, Alonso Gamero-Quijano, et al.. Visualization of Diffusion within Nanoarrays. Analytical Chemistry, 2016, 88 (13), pp.6689-6695. ⟨10.1021/acs.analchem.6b00513⟩. ⟨hal-01507495⟩
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