Ultrasonic Force Microscopy on Poly(vinyl alcohol) / SrTiO3 Nano-Perovskites hybrid films
Joshi, Girish M.
Cuberes Montserrat, María Teresa
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Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) and Ultrasonic Force Microscopy (UFM) have been applied to the characterization of composite samples formed by SrTiO 3 (STO) nanoparticles (NPs) and polyvinyl alcohol (PVA). The morphological features of the STO NPs were much better resolved in UFM than in contact-mode AFM topography. For high STO concentrations the individual STO NPs formed nanoclusters, which gathered in microaggregates. The STO aggregates, covered by PVA, exhibited no AFM frictional contrast, but were clearly distinguished from the PVA matrix using UFM. Similar aggregation was observed for NPs in the composite samples than for NPs deposited on top of a flat silicon substrate from a milliQ water solution in the absence of polymer. In the hybrid films, most STO nanoparticles typically presented a lower UFM contrast than the PVA matrix, even though stiffer sample regions such as STO should give rise to a higher UFM contrast. STO NPs with intermediate contrast were characterized by an UFM halo of lower contrast at the PVA/STO interface. The results may be explained by considering that ultrasound is effectively damped on the nanometer scale at PVA/ STO interfaces. According to our data, the nanoscale ultrasonic response at the PVA/STO interface plays a fundamental role in the UFM image contrast.