Letter abstract

Nature Nanotechnology 2, 167 - 170 (2007)
Published online: 18 February 2007 | doi:10.1038/nnano.2007.25

Subject Categories: Nanoparticles | Surface patterning and imaging

Coerced mechanical coarsening of nanoparticle assemblies

M. O. Blunt1, C. P. Martin1, M. Ahola-Tuomi1,2, E. Pauliac-Vaujour1, P. Sharp1, P. Nativo3, M. Brust3 & P. J. Moriarty1

Coarsening is a ubiquitous phenomenon1, 2, 3 that underpins countless processes in nature, including epitaxial growth1, 3, 4, the phase separation of alloys, polymers and binary fluids2, the growth of bubbles in foams5, and pattern formation in biomembranes6. Here we show, in the first real-time experimental study of the evolution of an adsorbed colloidal nanoparticle array, that tapping-mode atomic force microscopy (TM-AFM) can drive the coarsening of Au nanoparticle assemblies on silicon surfaces. Although the growth exponent has a strong dependence on the initial sample morphology, our observations are largely consistent with modified Ostwald ripening processes7, 8, 9. To date, ripening processes have been exclusively considered to be thermally activated, but we show that nanoparticle assemblies can be mechanically coerced towards equilibrium, representing a new approach to directed coarsening. This strategy enables precise control over the evolution of micro- and nanostructures.

  1. School of Physics & Astronomy, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK
  2. Department of Physics, University of Turku, FIN-20014 Turku, Finland
  3. Centre for Nanoscale Science, Department of Chemistry, University of Liverpool, Crown Street, Liverpool L69 7ZD, UK

Correspondence to: M. Brust3 e-mail: ppxmob@gwmail.nottingham.ac.uk

Correspondence to: P. J. Moriarty1 e-mail: philip.moriarty@nottingham.ac.uk


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