iPAINT: a general approach tailored to image the topology of interfaces with nanometer resolution†
Understanding interfacial phenomena in soft materials such as wetting, colloidal stability, coalescence, and friction warrants non-invasive imaging with nanometer resolution. Super-resolution microscopy has emerged as an attractive method to visualize nanostructures labeled covalently with fluorescent tags, but this is not amenable to all interfaces. Inspired by PAINT we developed a simple and general strategy to overcome this limitation, which we coin ‘iPAINT: interface Point Accumulation for Imaging in Nanoscale Topography’. It enables three-dimensional, sub-diffraction imaging of interfaces irrespective of their nature via reversible adsorption of polymer chains end-functionalized with photo-activatable moieties. We visualized model dispersions, emulsions, and foams with ∼20 nm and ∼3° accuracy demonstrating the general applicability of iPAINT to study solid/liquid, liquid/liquid and liquid/air interfaces. iPAINT thus broadens the scope of super-resolution microscopy paving the way for non-invasive, high-resolution imaging of complex soft materials.
- This article is part of the themed collection: 2016 Nanoscale HOT Article Collection