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Publisher DOI: 10.3390/polym13040588
Title: False morphology of aerogels caused by gold coating for SEM imaging
Language: English
Authors: Juhász, Laura 
Moldován, Krisztián 
Gurikov, Pavel 
Liebner, Falk 
Fábián, István 
Kalmár, József 
Cserháti, Csaba 
Keywords: mesoporous materials; aerogels; electron microscopy; gold sputtering; aggregation
Issue Date: 2-Feb-2021
Publisher: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute
Source: Polymers 13 (4): 588 (2021-02-02)
Abstract (english): 
The imaging of non-conducting materials by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) is most often performed after depositing few nanometers thick conductive layers on the samples. It is shown in this work, that even a 5 nm thick sputtered gold layer can dramatically alter the morphology and the surface structure of many different types of aerogels. Silica, polyimide, polyamide, calcium-alginate and cellulose aerogels were imaged in their pristine forms and after gold sputtering utilizing low voltage scanning electron microscopy (LVSEM) in order to reduce charging effects. The morphological features seen in the SEM images of the pristine samples are in excellent agreement with the structural parameters of the aerogels measured by nitrogen adsorption-desorption porosimetry. In contrast, the morphologies of the sputter coated samples are significantly distorted and feature nanostructured gold. These findings point out that extra care should be taken in order to ensure that gold sputtering does not cause morphological artifacts. Otherwise, the application of low voltage scanning electron microscopy even yields high resolution images of pristine non-conducting aerogels.
DOI: 10.15480/882.3318
ISSN: 2073-4360
Journal: Polymers 
Other Identifiers: doi: 10.3390/polym13040588
Institute: Entwicklung und Modellierung neuartiger nanoporöser Materialien V-EXK2 
Document Type: Article
Project: Advanced Engineering and Research of aeroGels for Environment and Life Sciences 
License: CC BY 4.0 (Attribution) CC BY 4.0 (Attribution)
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