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Effects of elastic anisotropy on strain distributions in decahedral gold nanoparticles


Metallic nanoparticles exhibit exceptional optoelectronic properties with applications in plasmonics, biosensing and nanomedicine1,2,3,4,5. Recently, new synthesis techniques have enabled precise control over the sizes and shapes of metal nanoparticles6,7,8, occasionally leading to morphologies that cannot be properly characterized using standard techniques. An example is five-fold-twinned decahedral Au nanoparticles, which are intrinsically strained as a result of their unique geometry. Various competing models have been proposed to predict the strain states of such nanoparticles. Here, we present a detailed analysis of the internal structure of a decahedral Au nanoparticle using aberration-corrected high-resolution electron microscopy and strain mapping. Our measurements confirm the presence of a disclination, which is consistent with the commonly accepted strain model. However, we also observed shear gradients, which are absent from the models. By comparing our local strain determinations with finite-element calculations, we show the effect of elastic anisotropy on the strain state in these nanoparticles.

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Figure 1: Decahedral geometry of Au nanoparticles.
Figure 2: Aberration-corrected HREM image of a 17-nm-radius defect-free decahedral Au nanoparticle.
Figure 3: Lattice-rotation distribution in the decahedral Au nanoparticle in Fig. 2a.
Figure 4: Shear-strain distribution in the decahedral Au nanoparticle in Fig. 2a.


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We thank A. Sánchez-Iglesias for help with particle synthesis, L. Durand for help with the modelling and C. Gatel for help with image processing. We thank the IP3 project of the 6th Framework Program of the European Commission: ESTEEM (Enabling Science and Technology for European Electron Microscopy - Contract number 0260019) for financial support. M.E. thanks the Becas Faro program, part of the Leonardo da Vinci program of the European Union, for financial support. B.R.-G., I.P.-S. and L.M.L.-M. thank the Spanish Minsterio de Education y Ciencia (Grant Nos MAT2004-02991 and NAN2004-08843-C05-03) for financial support.

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C.L.J., E.S., M.E. and M.J.H. carried out imaging, analysis and modelling. B.R.-G., I.P.-S. and L.M.L.-M. carried out particle synthesis.

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Correspondence to Craig L. Johnson.

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Johnson, C., Snoeck, E., Ezcurdia, M. et al. Effects of elastic anisotropy on strain distributions in decahedral gold nanoparticles. Nature Mater 7, 120–124 (2008).

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