Nanoscale chemical mapping of laser-solubilized silk
A water soluble amorphous form of silk was made by ultra-short laser pulse irradiation and detected by nanoscale IR mapping. An optical absorption-induced nanoscale surface expansion was probed to yield the spectral response of silk at IR molecular fingerprinting wavelengths with a high ~20 nm spatial resolution defined by the tip of the probe. Silk microtomed sections of 1-5 micrometers in thickness were prepared for nanoscale spectroscopy and a laser was used to induce amorphisation. Comparison of silk absorbance measurements carried out by table-top and synchrotron Fourier transform IR spectroscopy proved that chemical imaging obtained at high spatial resolution and specificity (able to discriminate between amorphous and crystalline silk) is reliably achieved by nanoscale IR. A nanoscale material characterization using synchrotron IR radiation is discussed.