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Synthesis and properties of SiNx coatings as stable fluorescent markers on vertically aligned carbon nanofibers

1 Materials Science and Engineering Department, North Carolina State University, NC27695, USA;
2 Measurement Sciences and Systems Engineering Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN 37831-6006, USA;
3 Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN 37831-6488, USA;
4 University of the District of Columbia, Washington, DC 20008, USA;
5 Materials Science and Technology Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN 37831, USA

Special Issue: Materials by Design

The growth of vertically aligned carbon nanofibers (VACNFs) in a catalytic dc ammonia/acetylene plasma process on silicon substrates is often accompanied by sidewall deposition of material that contains predominantly Si and N. In fluorescent microscopy experiments, whereby VACNFs are interfaced to cell and tissue cultures for a variety of applications, it was observed that this material is broadly fluorescent. In this paper, we provide insight into nature of these silicon/nitrogen in-situ coatings. We propose a potential mechanism for deposition of SiNx coating on the sidewalls of VACNFs during PECVD synthesis and explore the origin of the coating's fluorescence. It is most likely that the substrate reacts with process gases similar to reactive sputtering and chemical vapor deposition (CVD), forming silane and other silicon bearing compounds prior to isotropic deposition as a SiNx coating onto the VACNFs. The formation of Sinanoclusters (NCs) is also implicated due to a combination of strong fluorescence and elemental analysis of the samples. These broadly luminescent fibers can prove useful as registry markers in fluorescent cellular studies and for tagging and tracing applications.
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Keywords carbon nanofibers; plasma processing; sputtering; thin film deposition; photoluminescence; silicon nitride

Citation: Ryan Pearce, Timothy McKnight, Kate L. Klein, Ilia N. Ivanov, Dale Hensley, Harry Meyer III, Anatoli Melechko. Synthesis and properties of SiNx coatings as stable fluorescent markers on vertically aligned carbon nanofibers. AIMS Materials Science, 2014, 1(2): 87-102. doi: 10.3934/matersci.2014.2.87

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