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16| PLASTICS ENGINEERING | OCTOBER 2011| www.4spe.orglaser as the light source, and thespectral coverage of laser-based lightsources is still limited. Now,researchers from the BasqueNanoscience Research Center, CICnanoGUNE (San Sebastian, Spain),and Neaspec GmbH have developeda novel near-field spectroscopy plat-form with a thermal source.3"Theinstrument that we call nano-FTIRallows the recording of broadbandinfrared spectra with nanoscale spa-tial resolution," says RainerHillenbrand, leader of theNanooptics group at nanoGUNE.The new setup could be used to ana-lyze polymer nanocomposites with100 to 1000 times better resolutionthan conventional Fourier-transforminfrared (FTIR) spectroscopy.Because the technique is based onatomic force microscopy (AFM), itsimultaneously provides topographicinformation about the sample's sur-face, says Hillenbrand. As the sharpmetallic AFM scans a sample sur-face, it is illuminated with theinfrared light from a thermal source.Acting like an antenna, the tip con-verts the incident light into ananoscale infrared spot at the tipapex. By analyzing the scatteredinfrared light with a speciallydesigned FTIR spectrometer, theresearchers can record infrared spec-tra from ultra-small sample volumes."Our technique allows for recordingspectra in the near-to-far-infraredspectral range. These spectra can beused to chemically identify the com-posite components by their specificinfrared 'fingerprint' spectrum,"Hillenbrand explains.They expect that polymer sampleswill have weaker signals than thesamples of silicon and oxides theyhave studied so far. The current ver-sion of the instrument could be usedfor chemical mapping of thin poly-mer films with a resolution betterthan 100 nm and an imaging time ofa few hours. "By improving the sig-nal-to-noise in the spectra with theuse of more powerful thermal sources(e.g. operating at increased tempera-ture) and optimized near-field probes,we aim on rapid spectroscopic imag-ing with a resolution in the 10-nmrange," says Hillenbrand. With suchimprovements, the researchers thinkthat the instrument will provide away to identify and analyze polymerswith nanoscale spatial resolution,broad spectral coverage, and a lightsource that is relatively simple andinexpensive.References1. H.S. Choi et al, "Studying polymer thinfilms with hybrid optical microcavities,"Optics Letters, Vol. 36, No. 11, 2152-54(June 1, 2011).2. V. Lauter et al, "Morphology of thinnanocomposite films of asymmetricdiblock copolymer and magnetitenanoparticles," Journal of Physics:Condensed Matter, Vol. 23, 254215 ff.(2011).3. F. Huth et al, "Infrared-spectroscopicnanoimaging with a thermal source,"Nature Materials,Vol. 10, pp. 352-56(May 2011). For infrared nanospectroscopy with a thermal source, an atomic force microscopetip probes a sample. The tip is illuminated with the broadband infrared radiation froma thermal source and the backscattered light is analyzed with a Fourier-transformspectrometer, yielding local infrared spectra with a spatial resolution better than 100nm. The displayed graph shows local infrared spectra of differently processed oxidesin an industrial semiconductor device. Copyright F. Huth, CIC nanoGUNE.

Mediterranean's applied chemistry meetingof Th hfplasthe me tic an eeting nd rubg pointbbertprpofrocesssing.ticanInternational Plastics & RubberGran VVia VenueenueExhibition144-18 November -2011www.equiplast.com.