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Posted: Aug 18, 2011
ORNL and Asylum Research Receive Microscopy Today Innovation Award for New Electrochemical Strain Microscopy SPM Technique for Energy Storage Research
(Nanowerk News) Asylum Research, the technology leader in Scanning Probe and Atomic Force
microscopy, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have just received the prestigious Microscopy Today
Innovation (MT-10) Award for the development of Electrochemical Strain Microscopy (ESM). ESM is an innovative
new scanning probe microscopy (SPM) technique implemented on Asylum's Cypher™ and MFP-3D™ AFMs that is
capable of probing electrochemical reactivity and ionic flows in solids on the sub-ten-nanometer level.
ESM is the first
technique that measures ionic currents directly, providing a new tool for mapping electrochemical phenomena on the
nanoscale. The capability to probe electrochemical processes and ionic transport in solids is invaluable for a broad
range of applications for energy generation and storage ranging from batteries to fuel cells. ESM has the potential to aid
in these advances with two major improvements over conventional technologies: (a) the resolution to probe nanometerscale
volumes and (b) the inherent ability to decouple ionic from electronic currents with imaging capability extended to
a broad range of spectroscopy techniques reminiscent of conventional electrochemical tools.
The Figure displays the correlation between topography and the measured out-of-plane (OP) and in-plane (IP)
Electrochemical Strain Microscopy (ESM) amplitude and phase signals. To demonstrate the surface characteristics of
this LiCoO2 film, topography and deflection signals are shown in images (a) and (b), respectively. Small grains of
LiCoO2 with a diameter of approximately 200-300nm can be identified. The maximum OP and IP ESM amplitudes are
displayed in images (c) and (d). Both of the latter images show strong variations in the ESM response across the
scanned area. In addition, the OP and IP ESM amplitude maps do not show the same features, demonstrating no or
minimal cross-talk between the cantilever deflection and torsion. When images (c) and 7(d) are compared, grains with
OP and IP response (#1), no OP but IP response (#2), and OP but no IP response (#3) can be identified.
"We're extremely excited to have won this prestigious award," said Roger Proksch, President of Asylum Research.
"Our collaboration with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory has put forth many new cutting-edge developments in the
field of SPM, including Piezoresponse Force Microscopy, Switching Spectroscopy PFM, and Band Excitation. Asylum
Research and our collaborators continue to lead the industry with technical innovation as confirmed by this award."
Commented Sergei Kalinin, senior research staff member at the ORNL Center for Nanophase Materials Science, "Ionic
phenomena in solids directly underpin multiple energy technologies ranging from batteries to fuel cells, as well as
emergent electroresistive and memristive memories. Furthermore, very often they can contribute to observed physical
phenomena in correlated oxides. Electrochemical Strain Microscopy provides the pathway to study the kinetics and
thermodynamics of electrochemical processes in solids on the nanoscale, opening a window in these poorly explored
aspects of materials functionality".
Nina Balke added, "This is the first time we can actually see phenomena in batteries well below the100 nanometer level,
observing their charging and degradation on the level of single structural defects."
Concluded Stephen Jesse, the mastermind behind the development of ESM, "ESM offers an example of a
multidimensional SPM technique that provides a new and decisive step towards understanding the nanoscale world of
About Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Oak Ridge National Laboratory is the Department of Energy's largest science and energy laboratory. ORNL has a staff
of more than 4,800 and annually hosts approximately 3,000 guest researchers who spend two weeks or longer in Oak
Ridge. As an international leader in a range of scientific areas that support the Department of Energy's mission, ORNL
has six major mission roles: neutron science, energy, high-performance computing, systems biology, materials science
at the nanoscale, and national security. ORNL's leadership role in the nation's energy future includes hosting the Center
for Nanophase Materials Sciences - one of the five Department of Energy Nanoscale Science Research Centers, which
serve as user facilities for interdisciplinary research at the nanoscale supported by the DOE Office of Science.
About Asylum Research
Asylum Research is the technology leader in atomic force and scanning probe microscopy (AFM/SPM) for both
materials and bioscience applications. Founded in 1999, we are an employee owned company dedicated to innovative
instrumentation for nanoscience and nanotechnology, with over 300 years combined AFM/SPM experience among our
staff. Our instruments are used for a variety of nanoscience applications in material science, physics, polymers,
chemistry, biomaterials, and bioscience, including single molecule mechanical experiments on DNA, protein unfolding
and polymer elasticity, as well as force measurements for biomaterials, chemical sensing, polymers, colloidal forces,
adhesion, and more. Asylum's product line offers imaging and measurement capabilities for a wide range of samples,
including advanced techniques such as electrical characterization (CAFM, KFM, EFM), high voltage piezoresponse
force microscopy (PFM), thermal analysis, quantitative nanoindenting, and a wide range of environmental accessories
and application-ready modules.
Asylum's MFP-3D set the standard for AFM technology, with unprecedented precision and flexibility. The MFP-3D is
the first AFM with true independent piezo positioning in all three axes, combined with low noise closed-loop feedback
sensor technology. The MFP-3D offers both top and bottom sample viewing and easy integration with most
commercially-available inverted optical microscopes.
Asylum's new Cypher AFM is the world's first new small sample AFM/SPM in over a decade, and sets the new
standard as the world's highest resolution AFM. Cypher provides low-drift closed loop atomic resolution for the most
accurate images and measurements possible today, >20X faster AC imaging with small cantilevers, Spot-On™
automated laser and photodetector alignment for easy setup, integrated thermal, acoustic and vibration control, and
broad support for all major AFM/SPM scanning modes and capabilities.