Micrograph of the Month

Introducing Micrograph of the Month! To highlight our authors and their works, each month we'll feature an interesting and visually striking micrograph (or series of micrographs) chosen from a recent issue of the Journal of Sol-Gel Science and Technology or from unpublished sources such as PhD theses, etc (with full attribution given). If you know of any interesting images that might be suitable, please contact the ISGS Newsletter Editor for inclusion. The micrographs can be optical, SEM, TEM, AFM, etc, and a brief description of the samples should be provided.

Also, check out ISGS Newsletter's sister highlight program, Molecule of the Month!

April and May 2022

This months’ images are taken from four different papers in the latest issues of JSST and once again highlight the breadth of sol-gel science and technology, together with the areas in which our community is making an impact.

Fig 4

The first series is taken from the work of Yamamoto, Shimoda, Sato, Nakaya, Ohshita and Gunji entitled “Preparation and film properties of polysiloxanes consisting of di- and quadra-functional hybrid units” (JSST, (2022); https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-022-05806-z), which explores the mechanical properties of colourless, transparent gel films prepared from siloxane precursors containing both di- (D) and quadra-functional (Q) siloxane groups. Varying the arrangement of D and Q moieties within the precursor enabled the mechanical properties of the hybrids to be modulated, with Young’s modulus and fracture strengths of around 450 and 3.7 MPa being demonstrated.

Read it here.

Fig 1

The second series of micrographs is from the work of Chen, Tao, Shang, Ma, Li, Cao, Li, Li, Li, Xiao and Zhang. This paper, entitled “Rutile TiO2 nanorods grown on carbon nanotubes as high-performance lithium-ion batteries anode via one-dimensional electron pathways” (JSST, (2022); https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-022-05835-8), explores the properties of rutile nanorods grown on carbon nanotubes via a microwave-assisted hydrothermal method. The intriguing morphologies obtained, which are illustrated in the micrographs below, yielded an initial discharge capacity of 315 mAh.g-1 at 0.3 C when the materials were used as anodes in lithium ion batteries. This was substantially higher than the corresponding values obtained for physically mixed rutile and CNT or pure rutile. Excellent cycling performance was also demonstrated, with 93 % of the initial capacity retained at 1C after 200 cycles. The enhanced performance was attributed to the shorter electron-transfer distances via the onedimensional pathways established by the CNTs and TiO2 nanorods.

Read it here.

Figs 5 & 7b

The third series of images is from the work of Muto, Amano, Tan, Yokoi, Kawamura and Matsuda entitled “Ordered arrays of electrostatically assembled SiO2–SiO2 composite particles by electrophoresis-induced stimulation” (JSST, (2022); https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-022-05854-5). This paper explores the formation of electrostatically-assembled SiO2-SiO2 composite particles from ensembles of monodisperse 200 nm and 16 µm particles. Composite particles consisting of a 16 µm SiO2 core decorated with the 200 nm SiO2 particles (left image) were initially assembled using polyelectrolyte adsorption to control the surface charge of the core and decorating particles. The assembly of these exquisite composites was subsequently achieved by applying controlled AC and DC electric fields to yield 2D hexagonal close-packed structures (right image) or an AC field coupled with gravitational sedimentation to generate ordered 3D hexagonal close-packed arrays.

Read it here.

Figs 2a, 3e, 2f

The final series of images is from the work of Mimura, Hamao, Itasaka, Liu and Hamamoto. This paper, entitled “Hydrothermal synthesis of perovskite-type solid electrolyte nanoplate” ((JSST, (2022); https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-022-05810-3), describes the hydrothermal synthesis of perovskite nanoplates with stoichiometry (A,La) TiO3 (where A is either Li or Na). The phase purity of the nanoplates was modulated by the processing conditions employed, with a single-phase perovskite being obtained when NaOH was used as a mineraliser. The nanoplates had a thickness of around 10 nm and an average size of around 360 nm. Pellets fabricated from the nanoplatelets exhibited a conductivity of 3.8x10-6 S/cm following sintering at 1000 oC, which was an order of magnitude higher than the corresponding values obtained using commercial powders with a more conventional morphology.

Read it here.

January, February, and March 2022

This months’ images are taken from four different papers in the latest issues of JSST and once again highlight the breadth of sol-gel science and technology, together with the areas in which our community is making an impact.

Fig 3

The first series is taken from the work of Borovik, Oestreicher, Angelomé, Barja and Jobbágy entitled “Room temperature synthesis of lanthanum phosphates with controlled nanotexture as host for Ln(III) through the Epoxide Route” (JSST, (2022); https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-022-05744-w), and explores the use of an epoxide route for synthesising Eu(III)-doped LaPO4 as a Rhabdophane phase at ambient temperature. The work demonstrates control of the size and shape of the LaPO4 particles by modulating the mixed solvent system used for their synthesis, with diverse particle shapes such as dumbbells, urchins and needles being obtained with sizes from < 200 nm to > 5 µm.

Read it here.

fig 4,5

The second series of micrographs is from the work of Hamed, Ahmad, Hairom, Faridah, Mamat, Mohamed, Suriani, Soon, Fazli, Mokhtar and Shimomura. This paper, entitled “Photocatalytic degradation of methylene blue by flowerlike rutile-phase TiO2 film grown via hydrothermal method” (JSST, (2022); https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-021-05691-y), explores the effect of processing conditions such as initial alkoxide concentration on the morphology of flower-like rutile structures obtained under hydrothermal conditions. An intriguing series of film morphologies were observed, varying from rods oriented vertically on the substrate to flower-like and cauliflower-like materials. The flower-like morphology obtained using an initial alkoxide concentration of 0.10 M exhibited the best performance for the photocatalytic degradation of methylene blue.

Read it here.

fig 13

The third series of images is from the work of Sfez, De-Botton, Avnir and Wakshlak entitled “Sol–gel glazes - a safe glass and ceramics coloring approach” (JSST, (2022); https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-021-05699-4). This paper explores the use of organic colorants (approved for use with humans) entrapped within aluminosilicate hybrid matrices as replacements for the more toxic inorganic compounds typically used as pigments in glass and ceramic technology. Such an approach, which provides an artist’s palette consisting of thousands of colorants, reduces the energy required to produce glazed products and facilitates ready recyclability. The images on the left illustrate tiles glazed using this approach, under normal (left) and UV irradiation (second from left), while the images in the right-hand pane illustrate the artistic potential of such technology.

Read it here.

fig. 3

The final series of images is from the work of Colusso, Cicerchia, Rigon, Gomes and Martucci. This paper, entitled “Photoluminescence properties of silk–carbon quantum dots composites” ((JSST, (2022); https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-022-05742-y), explores solution casting approaches for producing silk fibroin-carbon quantum dot composites deposited on polydimethylsiloxane substrates. The top row of images illustrates the effect of varying the quantum dot content on the transparency of the hybrid films, while the bottom row shows the luminescence of the samples under UV irradiation. The best combination of transparency and luminescence intensity is achieved for a quantum-dot loading of 0.5 wt%, with higher concentrations leading to aggregation of the quantum dots and associated scattering and quenching of the luminescence.

Read it here.

December 2021

This month’s images are taken from two different papers in the latest issue of JSST and once again highlight the breadth of sol-gel science and technology, together with the areas in which our community is making an impact.

MotM 12-21 1

The first is taken from the work of AL-Jawad, Imran and Aboud entitled “Synthesis and characterization of Mn:CdS nanoflower thin films prepared by hydrothermal method for photocatalytic activity” (JSST, (2021), 100, 423-429; https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-021-05656-1), which explores the effect of Mn doping on the structural, morphological, optical and photocatalytic properties of nanoflowers produced by hydrothermal processing. The SEM micrographs illustrate the intriguing flower-like morphology of the materials, with increasing Mn doping leading to a decrease in the optical bandgap and increasing activity for the photocatalytic decomposition of dyes such as methyl blue and methyl violet.

Read it here.

motm 12-21 2

The second micrograph is from the work of Hou, Chen, Zhao, Zou and Sun. This paper, entitled “Porous silica coated gold nanocages for chemophotothermal combined therapy” (JSST, (2021), 100, 562-570; https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-021-05672-1), explores the properties of drug-delivery systems based on gold nanocages entrapped within a porous silica shell, which is further coated with n-isopropylacrylamide to produce a material suitable for containing therapeutic drugs such doxorubicin. Under suitable light irradiation (808 nm), the gold nanoparticles absorb the NIR light and the resulting heat provides both a photothermal effect and swells the organic surface layer, thus releasing the encapsulated drug. The efficacy of the combined photothermal response and controlled drug delivery for destroying Hela cells in vitro is explored.

Read it here.

November 2021

This month’s images are taken from two different papers in the latest issue of JSST and once again highlight the breadth of sol-gel science and technology, together with the areas in which our community is making an impact.

motm 1 11-21

The first is taken from the work of Ahmad, Abdullah, Yuhana, Yuliarto and Othman entitled “Enhanced photovoltaic performance of various temperature TiO2-SiO2-Ni-GO dye-sensitized solar cells assembled with PAN gel electrolyte” (JSST, (2021), https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-021-05670-3), which explores the effect of annealing temperature on the efficiency of dye-sensitized photovoltaic cells incorporating TiO2-SiO2-Ni-GO photoanodes. As shown in the micrographs, a highly porous, interconnected structure was obtained at 350 °C, which yields an efficiency of 3.4 % when used in conjunction with a solid gel electrolyte. In contrast, annealing at 400 or 450 °C leads to reduced efficiencies of 1.8 and 1.1 %, respectively.

Read it here.

Motm 2 11-21

The second series of micrographs is from the work of Dearden, Edwards, Evans, Woolsey, Blair, Harrison and Harrison. This paper, entitled “Synthesis of zinc oxide nanoplates and their use for hydrogen sulfide adsorption” (JSST, (2021), https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-021-05686-9), explores the sorption performance of ZnO nanoplates, nanoparticles and prisms for the uptake of hydrogen sulfide gas. Hydrogen sulfide reacts with ZnO via the formation of ZnS, with the nanoplates showing the highest uptake of 32 G S/100 g sorbent. The sorbents were readily regenerated by heating the sorbents at 600 °C

Read it Here.

October 2021

This month’s images are taken from two different papers in the latest issue of JSST and once again highlight the breadth of sol-gel science and technology, together with the areas in which our community is making an impact.

micrograph 1 oct 21

The first is taken from the work of Atay and Gultepe entitled “The effect of spinning cycle on structural, optical, surface and photocatalytic properties of sol–gel derived ZnO films” (JSST, (2021), https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-021-05661-4), which explores the effect of the number of spinning cycles on the photocatalytic performance of ZnO films deposited by spin coating. It was found that the structural, optical and surface properties of the films was significantly modulated by increasing the number of layers deposited from three to five, due both to the formation of higher-surface-area arrays of nanosized particles aligned in columnar arrays and to a decrease in the number of defect states, leading to enhanced photocatalytic activity.

Read it here.

micrograph 2 October 2021

The second series of micrographs is from the work of Ramallo, Morrone, Lionello , Angelomé and Fuertes. This paper, entitled “Mechanical properties and structural integrity of devices based on sol–gel mesoporous oxides thin films” (JSST, (2021), https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-021-05636-5), explores the mechanical properties of porous and multi-layered titania/silica coatings and the process parameters that impact on their structural integrity. Nanoindentation studies demonstrated that mesoporous bilayer silica films exhibited a plastic behaviour without delamination during penetration throughout the entire film cross-section, while the bilayer titania coatings (with similar thickness) fractured and delaminated under such conditions. In the case of silica/titania and titania/ silica bilayer films, the failure during indentation was controlled by the properties of the more brittle titania layer. For example, in the case of the titania/silica coating, delamination of the top mesoporous silica layer is promoted by the stresses generated during failure of the titania layer.

Read it here.

September 2021

This month’s images are taken from two different papers in the latest issue of JSST and once again highlight the breadth of sol-gel science and technology, together with the areas in which our community is making an impact.

motm 9-21 1

The first is taken from the work of Gegova-Dzhurkova, Nesheva, Dzhurkov, Šćepanović, GrujićBrojčin, Bineva, Mihailov, Levi, Manolov and Popović entitled “Modification of surface morphology and lattice order in nanocrystalline ZnO thin films prepared by spincoating sol–gel method” (JSST, (2021) 100, 55-67, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-021-05635-6), which explores the effect of drying in a hot-air flow (90-95 oC) and laser annealing on key properties of the ZnO films, including internal stress, crystallinity and defect density. The optical micrographs at the top (with each micrograph displaying a viewing field ca. 50 μm in width) show the wrinkled morphology obtained in the absence of the hot-airdrying step (a) compared to the unwrinkled morphology obtained using an intermediate hot-air-drying step (b) to evaporate volatiles. An AFM image further illustrating the wrinkled morphology is also shown (c).

Read it here.

motm 9-21 2

The second series of micrographs is from the work of Choudhary and Deepak. This paper, entitled “Investigation of time-dependent stability and surface defects in sol–gel derived IGZO and IZO thin films” (JSST, (2021), 100, 132-146, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-021-05615-w), explores the effect of gallium doping and ageing on the optical and electrical properties of indium gallium zinc oxide thin films deposited by spincoating. The as-processed films were typically uniform, transparent and amorphous when viewed under an optical microscope, with roughness below 2 nm. However, while they remained structurally and electrically stable with time, slight changes in morphology were evident after 13 days, with optical microscopy revealing some dark spots which were found to have high indium content. AFM studies of these defects revealed intriguing morphologies, with the effect being more evident in the absence of gallium doping.

Read it here.

August 2021

This month’s images are taken from three different papers in the latest issue of JSST and once again highlight the breadth of sol-gel science and technology, together with the areas in which our community is making an impact.

motm 8-21 1

The first is taken from the work of Xiao, Wang, Liu, Wei, Luo, Zeng and Yi entitled “Promising pure gold aerogel: in situ preparation by composite sol–gel and application in catalytic removal of pollutants and SERS” (JSST, (2021) 99, 614-626, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-021-05597-9), which describes the preparation of high-purity gold aerogels via reduction of Au(III) salts in the presence of a cellulose triacetate template. The as-prepared aerogels appear black in colour to the naked eye (consistent with highly dispersed, 10– to 15-nm-sized crystallites) and exhibit densities of 0.3-0.35 g.cm-3 (> 98 % porosity). Under Xe-lamp irradiation, they demonstrate good photocatalytic activity for the degradation of Congo red, 4-nitrophenol and rhodamine B. Following pressing at 1MPa, porous gold-coloured disks were obtained which were shown to be excellent substrates for acquiring surface-enhanced Raman spectra from rhodamine B solutions with concentrations as low as 10-7 M.

Read it here.

motm 8-21 2

The second series of micrographs is from the work of Liu, Ma, Tao, Cui, Tian, Liu, He, Dong, Song and Zhang entitled “A facile approach to the synthesis of Er3+ –Yb3+ –Mo6+ co-doped TiO2/Yb2Ti2O7 electrospun nanofibers and high thermal sensitivity” (JSST, (2021), 99, 557-564, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-021-05598-8). This paper describes the synthesis of luminescent nanofibers synthesised by electrospinning for potential applications in optical up-conversion. The SEM micrographs on the left show the structure of the fibres before (A-D) and after (E-H) annealing at 1000 oC for Er:Yb:Mo:Ti molar ratios of 0:0:0:100 (A,E); 1:10:2:100 (B,F); 2:20:4:100 (C,G); and 5:50:10:100 (D,H). The TEM EDX elemental maps for the latter system are included on the right.

Read it here. 

motm 3 8-21

The final series of micrographs is from the work of Güler, Selen, Başgöz, Safa and Yahia entitled “Adsorption properties and synthesis of silica aerogel-hollow silica microsphere hybrid (sandwich) structure” (JSST, (2021), https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-021-05622-x), which explores the uptake of methylene blue on a hierarchical silica structure in which silica aerogels are supported on hollow silica microspheres. The use of the hollow microspheres to produce a “sandwich” structure enhances the mechanical strength of the adsorbent, thus facilitating its removal from solutions once the sorbent becomes saturated and its subsequent reuse. The SEM micrograph (20 nm scale bar) illustrate the morphology of the system after uptake of methylene blue, while the optical images illustrate the colour of the hybrid before and after uptake

Read it here. 

July 2021

This month’s images were again taken from two different papers in the latest issue of JSST and once again highlight the breadth of sol-gel science and technology, together with the areas in which our community is making an impact.

Micrograph 1 Jul 21

The first is taken from the work of Chen, Qian, Sun, Song, Liu, and Lyu entitled “Grain size engineering and growth mechanism in hydrothermal synthesis of Bi0.5Na0.5TiO3 thin films on Nb-doped SrTiO3 substrates” (JSST, (2021), https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-021-05586-y), which explores the effect of varying mineraliser concentrations on the morphology of epitaxially-grown thin films on single-crystal substrates. Decreasing the concentration of the mineraliser (NaOH) from 10 M (left-side image) to 6 M (right-side image) transforms the large rectangular, randomly-oriented grains (with an average size of 250 nm) into smaller rectangular grains (average size of 135 nm) which are more uniformly oriented on the substrate to yield a relatively flat surface. Such grain-size engineering provides a facile approach for optimising the energy-storage density and efficiency of devices such as thin-film capacitors

Read it here.

motm 7 21 2

The second series of micrographs is from the work of Shen, Jiang, Li, Yang, Zhang, Zhang and Pan entitled “Hydrogen production by ethanol steam reforming over Ni-doped LaNixCo1−xO3−δ perovskites prepared by EDTAcitric acid sol–gel method” (JSST, (2021), https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-021-05588-w). This paper describes the structure and morphology of the title perovskite nanocomposite catalysts and the effect of composition (x=0, 0.5, 0.9) and operating parameters (reforming temperature, H2O:EtOH) on the ethanol steam reforming efficiency for the production of hydrogen from an ethanol feed. The micrographs illustrate the intriguing morphology of the optimum composition (x=0.5) before (left) and after (right) reduction in H2.

Read it here.

June 2021

This month’s images were again taken from two different papers in the latest issue of JSST and once again highlight the breadth of sol-gel science and technology, together with the areas in which our community is making an impact.

motm 1 6-21

The  first  is  taken  from  the  work  of  El-Shafey,  El  Din,  Abdelazim,  Mamdouh,  Salah,  El-Dek  and  Zaki  entitled “Innovative  biotemplates  for  the  synthesis  of  ZnO  nanoparticles  with  versatile  morphologies”  (JSST,  (2021), https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-021-05546-6), which explores the effect of different biotemplates on the morphology of the ZnO particles obtained, and the photocatalytic activity of the resulting materials. The micrographs on the left illustrate the coral-like morphology of the materials obtained in the absence of biotemplate, while those on the right show the striking differences obtained using clove as a biotemplate (with all processing conditions other- wise comparable), where ZnO ribbons are obtained.

Read it here.


MotM 2 6-21

The  second  series  of  micrographs  is  from  the  work  of Padilla-Hernández,  Medina-Ramirez,  Avila-Ortega, Barrón-Zambrano, Muñoz-Rodríguez, Carrera-Figueiras and Pérez-Padilla entitled “Synthesis of hybrid polymeric fibers of different functionalized alkoxysilane coupling agents obtained via  sol-gel and electrospinning technique: effect on the morphology by addition of PVA”  (JSST,  (2021), https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-021-05567-1).  This  paper  describes  the  effect  of  processing parameters on the formation of electrospun hy- brids produced  from PVA/PDMS-OH mixtures incorporating  different  coupling  agents.  The  upper micrograph  shows  the  cross-linked  fibres  obtained  from  a 50:50  (v:v)  mixture  of  PDMS  and  PVA,  with  3- cyanopropyl(triethoxy)silane  as  coupling  agent.  The lower-left and -right images illustrate the corresponding branched  fibres  obtained  from  a  30:70  (v:v)  mixture  of PDMS and PVA, with 3-aminopropyl(triethoxy)silane as coupling agent. The lower-right image was obtained using a five-fold increase in electrospinning flow rate.

Read it here.

May 2021

This month’s images were again taken from two different papers in the latest issue of JSST and once again highlight the breadth of sol-gel science and technology, together with the areas in which our community is making an impact.

motm may 2021 1

The first is taken from the work of Jia, Bi, Liu and Lyu entitled “Electronic structure, morphology-controlled syn-thesis, and luminescence properties of YF3:Eu3+” (JSST, (2021), 98, 497-507; https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-021-05536-8), which explores the effect of processing parameters on the photoluminescence of a series of Eu(III)-doped YF3 materials using both density functional theory and experimental studies. The micrographs illustrate the intriguing changes in morphology obtained for YF3:0.1Eu3+ by varying the RE3+:NaF mole ratio under hydro-thermal processing conditions (180 oC) from 1:2 (a), 1:3 (b) 1:4 (c) and 1:5 (d).

Read it here.


motm may 2021 2

The second series of AFM micrographs is from the work of Yang, Qu, Feng, Wang and Feng entitled “Wrinkling surface of mono-layered thin film derived by using trifluoroacetate solution” (JSST, (2021), https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-021-05547-5). This paper describes the effect of synthesis conditions on the formation of films with an unusual wrinkled morphology. The wrinkled films were obtained by first depositing a monolayered thin film on a rigid substrate via spin-coating and then applying a rapid pyrolysis thermal profile. The AFM images illustrate variations in the wrinkling morphology over an 84 μm x 84 μm area with increasing film thickness.

Read it here.


April 2021

This month’s images were again taken from two different papers in the latest issue of JSST and once again highlight the breadth of sol-gel science and technology, together with the areas in which our community is making an impact.

MotM 1 4/21

The first is taken from the work of Khizir and Abbas entitled “Hydrothermal growth and controllable synthesis of flower-shaped TiO2 nanorods on FTO coated glass” (JSST, (2021), https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-021-05531-z), which explores the effect of hydrothermal reaction temperature on the structural evolution of titania nanorods deposited on fluorine-doped tin oxide substrates. Optimisation of the hydrothermal processing conditions results in an intriguing structure in which a vertical array of titania nanorods form a flower-like morphology on the FTO substrate. The effect of the substrate on the evolving structure is also explored by substituting the FTO substrate with an indium tin oxide substrate, which resulted in substantial cracking of the deposited layer.

Read it here.


motm 2 4/2021

The second series of micrographs is from the work of Shaoqiang, Dong, Geng, Lin, Hua, Jun, Yi, Minxia, Yaohua and Wei entitled “The influence of grain size on the magnetic properties of Fe3O4 nanocrystals synthesized by solvothermal method” (JSST, (2021), 98, 422-429; https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-018-4909-2). This paper describes the effect of synthesis conditions on the shape of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles prepared via a solvothermal approach. The shapes of the nanoparticles obtained ranged from irregular structures, triangles and quadrilaterals to hexagonal nanocrystals with increasing solvothermal reaction time. The samples prepared using the longest reaction time could be readily separated from solution using an applied magnetic field, while those obtained at shorter reaction times could not.

Read it here.


March 2021

This month’s images were again taken from two different papers in the latest issue of JSST and once again highlight the breadth of sol-gel science and technology, together with the areas in which our community is making an impact.

micrograph 1 march 2021

The first is taken from the work of Zhang, Wu, Yang, Sun and Zhang entitled “Preparation of SBA-15 mesoporous silica grafted with bissalicylaldehyde
Schiff base for uptake of Pb(II) and Cu(II) from water
” (JSST, (2021), 98, 170-182; https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-020-05455-0), which explores the uptake of Cu(II) and Pb(II) on SBA-15 decorated with bissalicylaldehyde Schiff base. Micrographs a, b and c illustrate the structure of the as-prepared SBA-15, while d, e and f demonstrate that the structure remains intact after functionalisation with the Schiff base. Micrographs g and h show the elemental maps of the functionalised SBA-15 after uptake of Pb(II) and Cu(II), respectively. The work confirmed that adsorption occurred on the functionalised monolayer, with good reuse and regeneration behaviour being observed.

Read it here.


micrograph 2 for march 2021

The second series of micrographs is from the work of Cai, Liu, Li, Ni, Zhang, Gao and Jiang entitled “Facile fabrication of crystallized superhydrophobic hybrid coatings via solid-state hydrolysis/polycondensation of n-octadecyltrimethoxysilane” (JSST, (2021), 98, 271-279; https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-021-05500-6). This paper describes ordered nanohybrid coatings incorporating aligned n-octadecyl chains that demonstrate superhydrophobicity.
The electron micrograph on the left illustrates the intriguing coral-like morphology of the coatings, while the optical micrographs on the right illustrate both the superhydrophobicity of the coatings and their self-cleaning properties.

Read it here.


February 2021

This month’s images were again taken from two different papers in the latest issue of JSST and once again highlight the breadth of sol-gel science and technology, together with the areas in which our community is making an impact.

moth feb 1 2021

The first is taken from the work of Zhan, Nie, Wu, Li, Ding, Ma and Chen entitled “Novel rare earth ions doped Bi2WO6/rGO hybrids assisted by ionic liquid with enhanced photocatalytic activity under natural sunlight”, (JSST, (2021), https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-021-05494-1), which explores the effect of doping with various rare earth ions on the photocatalytic activity of Bi2WO6/graphene oxide hybrids prepared via sol-gel processing. The micrographs illustrate the intriguing morphology of the undoped Bi2WO6 (a, b), Bi2WO6/graphene oxide hybrids (c, d) and Er-doped-Bi2WO6/GO hybrids (e, f).

Read it here.


motm 2-21 2

The second series of micrographs is from the work of Dong, Qian, Li, Tang, Xiang, Chun, Lu, Han, Xia and Hu entitled “Fabrication of superhydrophobic PET filter material with fluorinated SiO2 nanoparticles via simple sol–gel process” (JSST, (2021), https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-021-05483-4). This paper describes the preparation of superhydrophobic coatings deposited on polyethylene glycol terephthalate (PET) membranes used to filter flue gases arising from the sintering of iron and steel. The coatings were prepared via sol-gel processing using a mixture of TEOS and perfluorodecyltriethoxysilane (PDFTES). As illustrated in the SEM micrographs, the pore structure of the PET membrane (a, b) was essentially unchanged following deposition of either TEOS (c, d) or TEOS/PDFTES (e, f) sol-gel layers, although the surface roughness was increased. The corresponding optical micrographs illustrate the significant increase in water contact angle achieved in the case of the TEOS/PDFTES coating (i, 163 o) compared to that of the TEOS coating (h, 0 o) and the uncoated PET membranes (g, 126 o).

Read it here.


January 2021

This month’s images were again taken from two different papers in the latest issue of JSST and once again highlight the breadth of sol-gel science and technology, together with the areas in which our community is making an impact.

MotM Jan 2021 1

The first is taken from the work of Salazar-Hernández, Puy-Alquiza, Miranda-Avilés, Salazar-Hernández, Mendoza-Miranda, Mocada-Sánchez and del Ángel-Soto entitled “Comparative study of TEOS-consolidants for adobe building conservation” (JSST, (2021), https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-020-05461-2), which reports the use of sol-gel derived materials for the conservation of adobe buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries. The first series of SEM images illustrate the effect of four different sol-gel formulations on the microstructure of an adobe sample, while the second row demonstrates the impact of the treatments on the degradation of the adobe under standard test conditions. This illustrates the efficacy of such sol-gel treatments for preserving historical and culturally significant buildings.

Read it here.


motm jan 2021 2

The second series of micrographs is from the work of Yang, Zhang, Shao, Li, Li, Liu, Tao, and Liu entitled “Facile preparation of flexible polyacrylonitrile/BiOCl/BiOI nanofibers via SILAR method for effective floating photocatalysis” (JSST, (2021), https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-020-05453-2). This paper describes the preparation of a floating photocatalyst in which successive layers of BiOCl/BiOI heterojunctions are deposited on self-supporting electrospun PAN nanofibre mats to produce highly active photocatalysts. The series of micrographs on the left show the structure of the PAN/BiOCl (top), PAN/BiOI (middle) and PAN/BiOCl/BiOI heterojunctions obtained via the SILAR process, while the TEM images on the right illustrate the structure of the photoactive heterojunction, together with the elemental maps illustrating the uniform distribution of elements in the material.

Read it here.


December 2020

This month’s images were again taken from two different papers in the latest issue of JSST and once again highlight the breadth of sol-gel science and technology, together with the areas in which our community is making an impact.

Micrograph 1 December 2020

The first is taken from the work of Abdel-Khalek, Rayan, Askar, Maksoud and El-Bahnasawy entitled “Synthesis and characterization of SrFeO3-δ nanoparticles as antimicrobial agent” (JSST, (2020), https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-020-05431-8). Apart from their promising antimicrobial activity for wastewater treatment, optical spectroscopic studies suggest that the nanoparticles have potential photocatalytic activity. In addition, thermal and magnetic studies provide evidence for the multiferroic nature of the materials.

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Micrograph of the Month 2 December 2020

The second series of micrographs is from the work of Ge, Li, Li and Zhao entitled “Fabrication of HAP/Ag/SSD ternary nanocomposite and its antibacterial properties” (JSST, (2020), https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-020-05418-5). This paper investigates the sustained antibacterial properties of hydroxyapatite/silver/silver sulfadiazine ternary nanocomposite rods with a hierarchical structure. Mesporous HAP nanorods (a) were initially used as a substrate onto which silver nanoparticles were loaded (b). Silver sulfadiazine was then produced in situ on the surface of the HAP/Ag nanorods to produce HAP/Ag/SSD (c).

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November 2020

This month’s images were again taken from two different papers in the latest issue of JSST and once again highlight the breadth of sol-gel science and technology, together with the areas in which our community is making an impact.

11-2020 motm 1

The first is taken from the work of Capeli et al. entitled “Effect of hydrothermal temperature on the antibacterial and photocatalytic activity of WO3 decorated with silver nanoparticles” (JSST, (2020), https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971- 020-05433-6). This paper investigates the effect of processing parameters on the catalytic and antimicrobial properties of hierarchical WO3.Ag synthesised at various temperatures (100, 150 and 200 oC). Materials synthesised at 150 or 200 oC exhibited the highest photocatalytic activity for the degradation of rhodamine, while those synthesised at 100 oC exhibited the highest antibacterial activity against various bacterial strains

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motm 11-2020 2

The second series of micrographs is from the work of Al-Mousoi and Mohammed entitled “Engineered surface properties of MAPI using different antisolvents for hole transport layer-free perovskite solar cell (HTL-free PSC)” (JSST, 96, 659-668 (2020)), which investigates the effect of different solvents on the performance of perovskite- based solar cells. The micrographs illustrate the structure of perovskite layers deposited using (a) toluene, (b) diethyl ether or (c) chlorobenzene and subsequently annealed at 100 oC for 15 minutes.

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October 2020

This month’s images were again taken from two different papers in the latest issue of JSST and once again highlight the breadth of sol-gel science and technology, together with the areas in which our community is making an impact.

micrograph 1

The first is taken from the work of Giménez, Ybarra and Soler-Illia entitled “Preparation of mesoporous silica thin films at low temperature: a comparison of mild structure consolidation and template extraction procedures” (JSST, 96, 287-296 (2020)). This paper investigates the effect of different template removal strategies for maintaining the structure of mesoporous thin films at temperatures less than 130 oC. Conditions such as the duration of thermal treatment, pH of extraction media, etc, were systematically explored. Such mesoporous thin films have many potential applications, including sensors, drug encapsulation and delivery and even “electronic tongues”.

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Micrograph

The second series of micrographs is from the work of Uzunbayir, Kartal, Can Doluel, Yurddaskal and Erol entitled “Development of α-Fe2O3/TiO2 3D hierarchical nanostructured photocatalysts through electrochemical anodization and sol–gel methods” (JSST, 96, 441-451 (2020)). The micrographs illustrate TiO2 nanotubes obtained via an electrochemical anodization approach using varying anodization times. The increasing height of the nanotubes with increasing anodization time (from 15 mins to 45 mins) is clearly evident. The paper explores their activity for the photocatalytic degradation of methylene blue.

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September 2020

This month’s images were again taken from two different papers in the latest issue of JSST and have been chosen to highlight the breadth of sol-gel science and technology,  together with the areas in which our community is making an impact.

New Content Item

The first is taken from the work of from the work of Ahemad and Yu entitled “Investigating the Mechamism of Uniform Ag@SiO2 Core-Shell Nanostructures Synthesis by a One-Pot Sol-Gel Method” (JSST, https://doi-org. ezproxy.uws.edu.au/10.1007/s10971-020-05392-y) and investigates the effect of processing parameters on the nanoparticles obtained. Such core-shell nanoparticles have a wide variety of potential applications in such diverse fields as sensing, SERS substrates, biomedicine, etc. The top row of micrographs illustrate the range of different nanoparticles that can be obtained, while the bottom row provides an elemental analysis of an individual Ag@SiO2 nanoparticle.

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New Content Item

The second series of micrographs is from the work of Bajpai, Mili, Hashmi, Srivastava, Tilwari, Mohapatra and Verma entitled “Synthesis and Characterization of Advanced Hybrid Titanium Compounds/F-MWCNTs Nanocomposites and their Antibacterial Activities” (JSST, 96(1), 153-165 (2020)). This paper investigates the antibacterial activity of hybrid systems in which titania-based materials are conformally impregnated on carbon nanotubes. The micrographs illustrate hybrids prepared from titania nanoparticles (left) and nanoflowers (right)

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August 2020

This month’s images were taken from two different papers in the Special Edition of JSST featuring work presented at the 20th International Sol-Gel Conference held in St Petersburg during August 2019, highlighting the rich diversity of the areas in which sol-gel science and technology is impacting.

image for 8/2020

The first is from the work of Drozdov, Prilepskii, Koltsova, Anastasova and Vinogradov entitled “Magnetic polyelectrolyte-based composites with dual anticoagulant and thrombolytic properties: towards optimal composition” (JSST, 95(3), 771-782 (2020)). The micrographs illustrate the structure and morphology of magnetite nanoparticles, together with their behaviour as a magnetic fluid, which are used to explore the concept of magnetic polyelectrolyte-based thrombolytics.

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8/2020 2nd

The second is from the work of Desponds, Banyasz, Montagnac, Andraud, Baldeck and Parola entitled “Microfabrication by two-photon lithography, and characterization, of SiO2/TiO2 based hybrid and ceramic microstructures” (JSST, 95(3), 733–745(2020)). In this work, the effect of precursor chemistry on the resolution achieved during 3D printing of sub-micron features in ceramic grids using a two-photon laser absorption process is investigated. The micrographs illustrate the effect of increasing the Ti:Si mole ratio in the precursor sol formulation from 0.4 to 1.

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July 2020

motm 7-2020

This month's images were taken from the work of Shijiao Zhao, Rui Xu, Jingtao Ma, Xuping Lin, Xing Cheng, Xingyu Zhao, Shaochang Hao, and Changsheng Deng entitled "Preparation and microstructure characterization of crack-free zirconium nitride microspheres by internal gelation combined with two-step nitridation" (JSST, 95(2), 398-407 (2020)). The internal gelation method was used to produce zirconia gel micropheres, where were then nitrided at 1500-1600 °C under reducing conditions. The optical micrograph in image (a) illustrates the size uniformity of the gold-colored microspheres obtained, while the SEM micrograph in image (b) illustrates their crack-free surface structure. Images (c) and (d) further illustrate the microstructure of the product, with the crystal faceting evident in (d).

You can read the article here.