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First atomic-scale real-time movies of platinum nanocrystal growth in liquids
Date:4/20/2012

eaning molecules collide and join together others grew in fits and spurts, driven by "coalescence events," in which small crystals randomly collide and fuse together into larger crystals. Despite their distinctly different growth trajectories, these two processes ultimately yielded nanocrystals of approximately the same size and shape.

"In that earlier study, however, we lacked the resolution to fully understand how these nanoparticles merge and reorganize their shape in the coalescence growth trajectory," Park says. "With the graphene liquid cells we used in this study, we were able to resolve the oriented coalescence along a specific crystal direction and see how they reorganized their overall structure into a final shape."

With the graphene liquid cells and the greater resolution of TEAM I, the Alivisatos-Zettl collaboration was able to observe that most coalescence events proceed along the same crystallographic direction the {111} plane of the crystal. This points to a specific nanocrystal orientation for coalescence not seen before in metal nanoparticles.

"We were able to resolve atomistic arrangement at the moment two of the platinum nanoparticles merged and visualize oriented attachment, a phenomenon known to be one the of major growth mechanisms of anisotropic particles," Park says. "This oriented coalescence could be one of the formation mechanisms behind another phenomenon we observed, twin boundaries, which occurs when nanoparticles merge together along the same {111} direction but on a mirror plane in the crystal."

In the future, the collaborators plan to use their graphene liquid cells to study the growth of many different types of nanoparticles, including metals, semiconductors and other useful materials. The graphene cells could also be applied to biomaterials, such as DNA and proteins, which exist naturally in solution.

"The one atom thick graphene membranes are ideal for liquid encapsulation," says c
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Contact: Lynn Yarris
lcyarris@lbl.gov
510-486-5375
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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