Imaging Molecular Surfaces via Atomic Scale Electron Microscopy and Spectroscopy
The structure and chemistry of molecular coatings can be tailored to control properties as diverse as the efficiency of next-generation photovoltaics and the ability of drugs to selectively target cancers in the body. A missing component needed to rapidly predict and design the properties and functionality of molecular coatings is the ability to visualize and understand their structure and chemistry at the atomic scale. Professor Pinshane Huang plans to develop methods that utilize a new, state-of-the-art scanning transmission electron microscope electron microscope at the University of Illinois to focus electrons down to sub-angstrom beams in order to directly visualize small molecule structure and chemistry. These methods will provide a new window into understanding how molecular coatings can be used to direct the synthesis, assembly, and interactions of complex nanostructures across the fields of energy harvesting, catalysis, and medicine. In addition to the impact of the specific research conducted in this project, Professor Huang’s work with the new electron microscope aims to transform the new analytical electron microscope into a leading national resource for atomic-scale chemical mapping of dose-sensitive materials.