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Article

False Morphology of Aerogels Caused by Gold Coating for SEM Imaging

1
Department of Solid State Physics, University of Debrecen, Egyetem sqr. 1, H-4032 Debrecen, Hungary
2
Doctoral School of Physics, University of Debrecen, Egyetem sqr. 1, H-4032 Debrecen, Hungary
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MTA-DE Redox and Homogeneous Catalytic Reaction Mechanisms Research Group, Department of Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry, University of Debrecen, Egyetem sqr. 1, H-4032 Debrecen, Hungary
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Doctoral School of Chemistry, University of Debrecen, Egyetem sqr. 1, H-4032 Debrecen, Hungary
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Laboratory for Development and Modelling of Novel Nanoporous Materials, Hamburg University of Technology, Eißendorfer Straße 38, 21073 Hamburg, Germany
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Institute for Chemistry of Renewable Resources, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU), Konrad-Lorenz-Straße 24, A-3430 Tulln, Austria
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to the work.
Academic Editor: Iolanda De Marco
Polymers 2021, 13(4), 588; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13040588
Received: 7 January 2021 / Revised: 3 February 2021 / Accepted: 11 February 2021 / Published: 16 February 2021
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. View Full-Text
Keywords: mesoporous materials; aerogels; electron microscopy; gold sputtering; aggregation mesoporous materials; aerogels; electron microscopy; gold sputtering; aggregation
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MDPI and ACS Style

Juhász, L.; Moldován, K.; Gurikov, P.; Liebner, F.; Fábián, I.; Kalmár, J.; Cserháti, C. False Morphology of Aerogels Caused by Gold Coating for SEM Imaging. Polymers 2021, 13, 588. https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13040588

AMA Style

Juhász L, Moldován K, Gurikov P, Liebner F, Fábián I, Kalmár J, Cserháti C. False Morphology of Aerogels Caused by Gold Coating for SEM Imaging. Polymers. 2021; 13(4):588. https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13040588

Chicago/Turabian Style

Juhász, Laura, Krisztián Moldován, Pavel Gurikov, Falk Liebner, István Fábián, József Kalmár, and Csaba Cserháti. 2021. "False Morphology of Aerogels Caused by Gold Coating for SEM Imaging" Polymers 13, no. 4: 588. https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13040588

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