Resonance-Enhanced Infrared Nanospectroscopy (REINS) based on Atomic Force Microscopy and Quantum Cascase Lasers

Award Information
Department of Energy
Award Year:
Phase I
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
14 b
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Anasys Instruments Corp
121 Gray Avenue, Suite 100, Santa Barbara, CA, 93101-1809
Hubzone Owned:
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Mikhail Belkin
(512) 471-4424
Business Contact:
Roshan Shetty
(805) 455-5482
Research Institution:
University of Texas-Austin

101 E. 27th Street
Austin, TX, 78713-7726
() -
Nonprofit college or university
Infrared spectroscopy is the most widely used technique for chemical characterization with a worldwide market of over $1B annually. Conventional IR spectroscopy suffers, however, from fundamental spatial resolution limits at the scale of many microns to many tens of microns. 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. In recent years a new technique has been 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 STTR project will involve a close collaboration between Anasys Instruments and Prof. Mikhail Belkin of the University of Texas at Austin. The project will involve the development of a novel form of AFM-IR called Resonance Enhanced Infrared Nanospectroscopy (REINS) in which the AFM cantilever resonance is used to enhance the IR detection sensitivity. The resulting resonance enhancement makes it possible to perform infrared spectroscopy on samples that have previously been beyond the detection limit of the AFM. Phase I will establish feasibility and sensitivity limits of the REINS technique, while Phase II will culminate with the development of a commercial prototype REINS system. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: This project will have wide ranging applications in many areas of materials and life sciences. The REINS instrument will allow materials science and life science researchers the ability to examine the chemical content of complex samples on length and thickness 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 enabled by this project will also open the door to 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 new 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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