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Resonant Enhanced Infrared Nano-Spectroscopy (REINS)

Award Information
Agency: Department of Energy
Branch: N/A
Contract: DE-FG02-12ER86502
Agency Tracking Number: 98859
Amount: $1,000,000.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: 14b
Solicitation Number: DE-FOA-0000782
Solicitation Year: 2013
Award Year: 2013
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2013-04-09
Award End Date (Contract End Date): N/A
Small Business Information
121 Gray Ave. Suite 100
Santa Barbara, CA 93101-1809
United States
DUNS: 556921620
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Craig Prater
 (805) 730-3310
Business Contact
 Roshan Shetty
Title: Dr.
Phone: (805) 455-5482
Research Institution
 University of Texas at Austin
PO Box 7726
Austin, TX 78713-7726
United States

 () -
 Nonprofit College or University

Infrared spectroscopy is the most widely used technique for chemical characterization with a worldwide market of over $1B annually. Conventional infrared spectroscopy suffers, however, from fundamental spatial resolution limits that prohibit its application at the nanoscale. This has prevented widespread use of IR spectroscopy in the growing field of nanoscale materials. The atomic force microscope (AFM) on the other hand excels at nanometer level spatial resolution, but has lacked any robust technique for chemical characterization. A new technique was recently developed that combines AFM and infrared spectroscopy (AFM-IR) to provide chemical analysis on sub-100 nm length scales. This project aims to dramatically increase the sensitivity and range of samples that can be measured with the AFM-IR technique. These improvements will enable nanoscale chemical analysis on a wide range of samples including materials for energy generation and storage (for example organic photovoltaics) and biological materials under physiological conditions. This project involves a close collaboration between Anasys Instruments and Prof. Mikhail Belkin of the University of Texas at Austin. The project is developing a novel form of AFM-IR called Resonance Enhanced Infrared Nanospectroscopy (REINS) in which an IR light source is pulsed at a frequency corresponding to a resonant frequency of an AFM cantilever probe. This resonance enhancement enables nanoscale infrared spectroscopy on samples that have previously been beyond the detection limit of the AFM, down to the level of single molecular monolayers. In Phase I the team demonstrated the ability to enhance the sensitivity of AFM-IR chemical spectroscopy by 100X over previous performance. With this improved sensitivity, the team demonstrated chemical spectroscopy on extremely thin films, down to the scale of a single molecular monolayer. Among other accomplishments, the team also demonstrated the ability to extend AFM-IR capabilities to allow measurements in liquids, enabling nanoscale chemical analysis in physiological and electrolytic environments. In Phase II the team will develop a commercial prototype REINS AFM-IR system leveraging sensitivity and resolution accomplishments in Phase I. The project integrates infrared laser sources, high sensitivity AFM probes and AFM measurement control systems to enable push button nanoscale chemical spectroscopy on a robust commercial platform. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: This project will have wide ranging applications in many areas of materials and life sciences. The REINS instrument will provide researchers the ability to examine the chemical content of complex samples on length scales previously unavailable. This new tool will accelerate the development of novel materials for energy generation and storage and structural materials that are lighter and stronger, providing significant energy savings. The improved sensitivity developed during this project will also enable accelerated development of advanced coatings and functional nanostructures, materials where significant material and device capabilities originate from very thin chemical coatings. The REINS platform will also provide insights in biology and in biomedical areas due to the ability to perform IR spectroscopy with sub-cellular spatial resolution.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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