Researchers from Voronezh State University, in cooperation with their colleagues from other countries, suggested an affordable and efficient way of studying the properties of solid-state materials with enhanced surfaces, with the help of modern diagnostic techniques including using megascience facilities. The results of the research were published on 17 May 2019 in the high-profile Scientific Reports magazine published by Springer Nature Publishing AG. The work was carried out as a part of the project “Atomic and electron structure of new functional composite nanostructures based on wide-band tin oxides and hybrid bionanomaterials combined with filamentary silicon” carried out by Elena Parinova, researcher from the Department of Solid-State Physics and Nanostructures of the Faculty of Physics. The project was supported by a grant of the Russian Science Foundation for “Conducting initiative research by young scientists” within the presidential programme.
“Our research proves that a fresh approach to the existing techniques can give way to breakthrough results. We were able to study the deeper parts of materials with the help of techniques which were traditionally used to study the surface of materials with well-developed morphology. This innovation can be of interest for researchers working in various areas connected with functional materials and nanostructures. The development by VSU scientists shows that small dimension objects with a pronounced surface can be studied in detail by spectroscopical methods of analysis of the composition and structure on a much deeper level than the informative layer. The idea of the research came up during a number of experiments with using the source of synchrotron radiation BESSY II,” said the head researcher Elena Parinova.
The experiment involved a lot of meticulous preparatory work, that is why the research was conducted by an international team of scientists who received and provided samples of the material to measure (D. Ermukhamed from Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, T. Ming and V. Sivakov from Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technology) and prepared the experiment's infrastructure (R. Ovsyannikov from Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin, D. Smirnov and A. Makarov from Dresden Technical University).
It should be noted that Alexandra Pislyaruk, a student from the Faculty of Physics, a laureate of the personal scholarship by M.A. Levitskaya, and a co-author of the project, took an active part in the experiment which was conducted in the Synchrotron Radiation Centre in Germany. In August 2019, Alexandra started the Master’s programme “Physics of Nanosystems” at the Faculty of Physics of VSU.
“All materials around us have surfaces. They also have internal volume. If we decrease the size of the particle and make it nanoscale, its contribution to the volume decreases and the total contribution of the surface increases”, explains Sergei Turistchev, DSc in Physics and Mathematics. “In many cases, the properties revealed by a nanomaterial or a nanostructure are due to the well-developed surface”.
Dmitry Kouda, a permanent participant of megascience experiments adds:
“To conduct the experiment we used ultra-high vacuum and inert atmosphere which made it possible to avoid a natural formation of an oxide layer immediately after the mechanical removal. We used megascience facility radiation as a probe. Our experiment allowed a number of operations to be completed with the sample at the same time. Previously, they were all carried out individually”.
By using a new approach to study samples of silicone-based nanostructures, the researchers came to a conclusion that the controlled formation of filamentary silicon arrays enables us to change the atomic and electronic structure. This means that we can control the properties of these promising materials, which broadens the sphere of application of silicon nanowires in science and technology.