A monolayer can be defined as a one molecule thick film or layer of closely packed atoms or molecules at an interface, often formed at the air-water interface as a Langmuir film. The monolayer can be located on a solid surface or floating on a gas-liquid interface. Some monolayers can also be formed at a liquid-liquid interface.
Many materials can be used to form monolayers including lipids, nanoparticles, polymers and proteins to name a few. Monolayers are the source of high expectations as being useful components in many practical and commercial applications such as sensors, detectors, displays and electronic circuit components. The possibility to synthesize organic molecules and the development of novel new inorganic materials with desired structure and functionality enables the production of electrically, optically and biologically active components on a nanometer scale.
Monolayer properties depend on many criteria including the material used, the film structure and the packing density of the monolayer. Langmuir film and Langmuir-Blodgett film deposition are recognized techniques to fabricate and study well organized monolayers at gas-liquid, liquid-liquid and gas-solid interfaces with control over the packing density. A Langmuir Trough can be used to fabricate monolayers in a controlled way. Other methods such as Dip coating or spin-coating can possibly be used to create monolayers but they do not allow as much control on the film structure and density.
Illustration: Floating monolayers at the air-liquid interface (top). Monolayers on solids (bottom).
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