MESA+ University of Twente
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Mingliang Jin (promotion date: 19 January 2012)

High Density Periodic Metal Nanopyramids for Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy

Promotion date: 19. January 2012

Promotor: Prof. dr. ir. Albert van den Berg

Assistant promotor: Dr. Edwin T. Carlen

In what way was your research application driven?

Raman spectroscopy is not popular in nanotechnology as the signals to be detected are usually very weak. By fashionable etching techniques for the SERS substrates we could enhance the signals considerably. This goal set at the beginning of the project we reached in a fairly straight line, which was a pleasant surprise for all people involved including myself.

We compared the characterization results directly to commercial-like products and got amazing outcomes. Although our substrate pyramid tips were not as erect as the commercial ones, our pattern was very regular and we were able to use the grooves instead of the tips to its maximum. Molecules can be caught more effectively here, leading to good measurement results. Moreover, it was possible to reuse my SERS-substrates whereas the competing ones were only usable one time after which they had to be disposed.

Raman spectroscopy is an even more challenging tool I believe. As it can be used in wet conditions even single biological molecules are identifiable in a label-free way. In the end, that’s the kind of dream for every chemist.

How did you change as a scientist and researcher during the thesis project?

After my study in China, I continued my master thesis in Belgium and South Korea as a chemist. Also, here in Holland nanophysics was a new field of research for me, especially the fabrication and lithography parts. Professor Albert van den Berg and dr. Edwin Carlen represented the two main disciplines: physics and chemistry. They helped me combining new experimental ideas and addressing the fundamental issues involved in a friendly way, giving way the questions that were most present-day.

What are your future plans?

I plan to go back to China now after having the opportunity to taste different cultures for ten years now. Applying for a position in academic research in nanotechnology is most desirable now, for example in Guangzhou. Perhaps this will be in another field of nanotechnology than I was in here in Holland.

Thinking of the more far away future, I am thinking to develop and produce a device based on the features revealed in this project. Albert van den Berg has a strong belief this is possible, and he possesses a lot of experience to realize business opportunities.

Did you manage to have some nice publications?

An article appeared in the Journal of Physical Chemistry C. It explains the concept of Raman spectroscopy using enhanced substrates. The other two papers are in preparation, for Nano letters and Nano scale.

Did you feel part of the Mesa+ community?

In our group we were happy to meet top-scientists from all over the world, and we were able to have our say who was to be invited. I liked the multidisciplinary discussions coming out of these meetings.

Every two years we had the chance to visit famous locations abroad. On our trip to Swiss we visited CERN and also some well-known solar cell research facilities too. In Boston we spent six days attending several lectures a day in various fields of interest.

Furthermore, I like the type of thinking, working and behaviour style within the research group and on the Campus of the University of Twente. Discussing the topics in a free way helped me to overcome cultural differences and also helped me to integrate in society, without feeling homesick too much.

Playing badminton on the university was a great help for me getting to know new people and take some pressure from the challenging experimental work. In China people are not used to visit a bar regularly, so these sporting events really contributed to returning to work afresh the next day.