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Atomic Force Microscopy Imaging of Crystalline Sucrose in Alcohols

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journal contribution
posted on 04.02.2020, 13:35 authored by Yuya Teduka, Akira Sasahara, Hiroshi Onishi
Imaging nanometer- or molecule-scale topography has been achieved by dynamic atomic force microscopy (AFM) when a solid object of interest is damaged by vacuum exposure or electron irradiation. Imaging in a liquid offers a means to remove contaminations from the surface scanned using the microscope tip when the object is soluble to the surrounding liquid, typically water. In the present study, we attempted to take topographic images of crystalline sucrose. A problem arose due to the high solubility of this compound to water. Cantilever oscillation could not be excited in the saturated, viscous aqueous solution. By using n-hexanol instead of water, the solubility in the solvent and thus viscosity of the solution were reduced sufficiently to excite cantilever oscillation. Single-height steps and sucrose molecules were recognized in the images and thereby recorded on the (001)-oriented facets of sucrose crystals. Furthermore, two-dimensional distribution of liquid-induced force pushing or pulling the tip was mapped on planes perpendicular to the hexanol–sucrose interface. Observed uneven force distributions indicated liquid hexanol structured on the corrugated surface of sucrose. The viscosity tuning demonstrated here, which is not limited to hexanol instead of water, extends the range of liquid–solid interfaces to be probed by dynamic AFM.