Mobility of ionic hydrates
Jun/18 paper in Nature about mobility of ionic hydrates studied by high-resolution AFM. »more info

O. Wichterle prize
Jun/18 O. Stetsovych received O. Wichterle prize for outstanding young scientists at the AS CR. »more info

Piezoelectricity of single molecules
Jan/18 paper in JACS demonstrating piezoelectric effect on single molecules »more info

Resolving water clusters with AFM
Jan/18 paper in Nature Comm. about a method allowing high-resolution AFM of weakly coupled clusters »more info

High-resolution SPM imaging
Sep/17 paper in PRL reporting AFM/STM/IETS imaging »more info

Electronegativity of atoms
May/17 paper in Nature Comm. »more info

Transfer of chirality
Feb/17 Paper published in Nature Chemistry including News&Views. »more info

Towards chemical recognition of molecules
Aug/16 Paper published in ACS Nano. »more info

Odehnal award
June/16 O. Stetsovych received Odehnal award »more info

Praemium Academiae
June/16 P. Jelinek received CAS award »more info

Imaging electrostatic field
May/16 paper in Nature Comm. »more info

O. Wichterle prize
May/16 P. Hapala received O. Wichterle prize for outstanding young scientists at the AS CR. »more info

On-surface chemical synthesis
Apr/16 paper in JACS »more info

Structural and Electronic Properties of Nitrogen-Doped Graphene
Mar/16 Paper in Phys. Rev. Lett. »more info

Role of the electrostatic force in AFM images
Mar/16 Paper in Phys. Rev. Lett »more info

Charge transport between two molecules
Sep/15 Paper in Phys. Rev. Lett »more info

The best poster ECOSS-31
Sep/15 Our work has been selected as the best poster in the ECOSS-31 conference. »more info

Paper in ACS Nano
Aug/15 Novel way of B,N-co doping of graphene demonstrated. »more info

paper in PRL and Physics
Aug/15 Our work has been published in Phys. Rev. Lett highlighted as Synopsis in Physics. »more info

Paper in Nature Comm.
Jul/15 High-resolution AFM images reported at room temperature. »more info

Paper in Nano Letters
Jun/15 The current and the force used for controlled atomic switching of silicon tetramer. »more info

O. Wichterle prize
May/15 M. Ondracek received O. Wichterle prize for outstanding young scientists at the AS CR. »more info

Resolving water clusters with AFM

Scientists from the Institute of Physics of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic and Palacky University in Olomouc, in collaboration with colleagues from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Beijing University, have made significant progress in imaging water molecules. Scientists have developed a new method to achieve submolecular resolution of weakly bound water clusters on solid surfaces, including their chiral orientation or metastable configurations. The work published in Nature Communications  significantly advances the current possibilities of imaging weakly bound water nanostructures using Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM).

A wide range of physical, chemical and technological processes, such as water corrosion resulting from electrochemical reactions or transport of molecules in cells, takes place at the water and solids interface. Studying water behavior is one of the major challenges of contemporary science and is addressed across different disciplines. A deeper understanding of these processes is, however, currently limited by our ability to accurately determine the local structure of clusters consisting of weakly bound water molecules at the interface with the solid, see Figure 1 showing a cluster of water formed by 4 water molecules with two possible chiral configurations.

One of the techniques used to study the interface between water and solids is scanning probe microscopy. In scanning probe microscopy, the molecules are displayed using a tip with a atomically sharp apex. However, the disadvantage is that the conditional interaction of the probe with weakly bound water molecules inevitably leads to disturbing their fragile water structure and undesirable measurement distortion. These undesirable effects significantly limit the exact determination of their structure at the atomic level. Alternatives are non-invasive spectroscopic methods such as optical spectroscopy, neutron scattering and nuclear magnetic resonance imaging. However, these spectroscopic methods do not allow local determination of the structure of small water clusters on solid surfaces.

Czech and Chinese scientists have developed a new method for submolecular resolution of water-based clusters deposited on salt using weak multipole electrostatic forces between water molecules and a specially modified tip of a microscope ending with a single molecule of carbon monoxide, see Figure 1. This method allows imaging of metastable structures with their minimal structural disturbance as well as the chiral orientation of water clusters.

This work opens the way for studying the internal structure and dynamics of ice or water on the surface of solids, and studying electrochemical processes, ion hydration and biological water with atomic precision.

J. Peng, et al
Weakly perturbative imaging of interfacial waterwith submolecular resolution by atomic forcemicroscopy
Nat. Commun. 9 (2018) 122(1) - 122(7).