Applied metrology example from literature, and new new-year’s SAXS resolutions

New year
New year

Welcome to the new year, may it be even more fun than the last! For today, I have two items on the menu: a paper that came to my attention and some fresh new-years resolutions…

First of all, I’d like to highlight a paper which has come to my attention via Twitter (thanks to user @andiedg). In this paper, the authors are presenting a thorough discussion disproving the notion of “stripy nanoparticles”. These functionalised nanoparticles were observed to have a patterned surface in SPM, after which such patterns were substantiated with other techniques such as NMR, TEM and SANS. It turns out, however, that many of the observations are explainable as (and more consistent with) instrumental artefacts ([ed. 3] indications that something might be askew also arose late 2012 in this paper). It is, to me, a very good example of the field of Applied Metrology (which I have found to be my field as well), as it shows how a deeper understanding of the measurement technique can help prevent faulty conclusions.

The author furthermore highlights how he got to work on this topic in his blog post here. Interestingly, the authors of the original “stripy nanoparticles”-papers appear to have been not unwilling to share their data and discuss some of the results.¬†[see ed. comments 1 and 2 below] It turns out to have been quite difficult to get copies of the original datasets, and publishers seemed equally disinterested in publishing reinterpreted/scrutinised data.¬†Furthermore, the paper stresses that the faulty conclusions could have been avoided by “adopting an extremely critical, systematic and sceptical approach to SPM imaging of nano structured samples”. Perhaps the SAXS community can learn from these experiences to ensure that we only publish critically appraised, well-corrected and thoroughly analysed data.

[edit: Based on the additional insight from the authors in the comments below, the following has been modified: 1. The provision of data by the authors of the original stripy nanoparticles was not necessarily all that forthcoming. 2. journals were not that keen on publishing a reinterpretation of data. 3. Another paper highlighting some issues with the stripy nanoparticles has been added]

Onwards to the new year resolutions! Last year I promised quite a bit, and delivered on a few of them (see last blog post). This year it’s not going to change much. While I have less of an overview of what the coming year is going to be like, a few items come to mind:

  1. About 3-4 publications, with 1-2 first-author papers (in the pipeline are: one on the data correction code (maybe), one on the instrument development, one on some nanoparticle growth studies from my previous position and one on the 2D MC method),
  2. I’ll get the BH machine to become operational (provided the generator plays along a bit with this),
  3. Get a permanent position before the year (and the current contract) is up,
  4. Have fun, play around and break things… That’s pretty much a given.
  5. A LookingAtNothing post at least once every two weeks.

Feel free to leave comments and/or resolutions below!


  1. Thank you for writing about out paper. I wish to draw attention to one point you make on the provision of data. We did get the data, but it was not easy. Our original request was refused, so we had to appeal to the orginal journal as editorial guidelines state that data should be provided. A blog post gives more details on the requests ( and on when the data was released ( Also, on the subject of open data, all data and all analysis code for our paper is online at DOI: 10.6084/m9.figshare.882904 if anyone in interested.

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