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Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 4198519, 14 pages
Research Article

Characterization of Dielectric Nanocomposites with Electrostatic Force Microscopy

1Institut d’Electronique et des Systèmes, Université de Montpellier, 34095 Montpellier Cedex 5, France
2Institut Européen des Membranes, IEM UMR-5635, Université de Montpellier, ENSCM, CNRS, Place Eugène Bataillon, 34095 Montpellier Cedex 5, France
3Hydro-Québec’s Research Institute, Varennes, QC, Canada J3X 1S1
4Centre de Technologie de Montpellier, Université de Montpellier, 34095 Montpellier Cedex 5, France

Correspondence should be addressed to R. Arinero

Received 21 April 2017; Revised 22 June 2017; Accepted 3 August 2017; Published 25 September 2017

Academic Editor: Francesco Ruffino

Copyright © 2017 D. El Khoury et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Nanocomposites physical properties unexplainable by general mixture laws are usually supposed to be related to interphases, highly present at the nanoscale. The intrinsic dielectric constant of the interphase and its volume need to be considered in the prediction of the effective permittivity of nanodielectrics, for example. The electrostatic force microscope (EFM) constitutes a promising technique to probe interphases locally. This work reports theoretical finite-elements simulations and experimental measurements to interpret EFM signals in front of nanocomposites with the aim of detecting and characterizing interphases. According to simulations, we designed and synthesized appropriate samples to verify experimentally the ability of EFM to characterize a nanoshell covering nanoparticles, for different shell thicknesses. This type of samples constitutes a simplified electrostatic model of a nanodielectric. Experiments were conducted using either DC or AC-EFM polarization, with force gradient detection method. A comparison between our numerical model and experimental results was performed in order to validate our predictions for general EFM-interphase interactions.