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Atomic-scale determination of surface facets in gold nanorods

Abstract

It is widely accepted that the physical properties of nanostructures depend on the type of surface facets1,2. For Au nanorods, the surface facets have a major influence on crucial effects such as reactivity and ligand adsorption and there has been controversy regarding facet indexing3,4. Aberration-corrected electron microscopy is the ideal technique to study the atomic structure of nanomaterials5,6. However, these images correspond to two-dimensional (2D) projections of 3D nano-objects, leading to an incomplete characterization. Recently, much progress was achieved in the field of atomic-resolution electron tomography, but it is still far from being a routinely used technique. Here we propose a methodology to measure the 3D atomic structure of free-standing nanoparticles, which we apply to characterize the surface facets of Au nanorods. This methodology is applicable to a broad range of nanocrystals, leading to unique insights concerning the connection between the structure and properties of nanostructures.

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Figure 1: Comparison between Au nanorods grown with CTAB and gemini surfactants.
Figure 2: 3D reconstruction of Au nanorods.
Figure 3: 3D Fourier transform of the reconstructed CTAB nanorod.
Figure 4: Atomic-resolution reconstruction of a Au nanorod.

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Acknowledgements

We thank A. Rosenauer from IFP, Bremen, for the use of the STEMsim program and A. Béché from FEI for his technical advice. The work was supported by the Flemish Fund for Scientific Research (FWO Vlaanderen) through a PhD research grant to B.G. G. Van Tendeloo acknowledges financial support from the European Research Council (ERC Advanced Grant 24691—COUNTATOMS). L.M.L-M. acknowledges financial support from the European Research Council (ERC Advanced Grant 267867—PLASMAQUO). The authors appreciate financial support from the European Union under the Seventh Framework Program (Integrated Infrastructure Initiative N. 262348 European Soft Matter Infrastructure, ESMI). The authors also acknowledge financial support from the Flemish Hercules 3 programme for large infrastructure.

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Contributions

B.G. and S.B. performed the experiments and analysed the 3D reconstructions, B.G. and W.V.d.B. developed the reconstruction algorithm, E.C-A., S.G-G. and L.M.L-M. carried out particle synthesis and interpreted the results, G.V.T. contributed to the methodology, the interpretation and to the redaction. All the authors read and commented on the paper.

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Correspondence to Sara Bals.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Goris, B., Bals, S., Van den Broek, W. et al. Atomic-scale determination of surface facets in gold nanorods. Nature Mater 11, 930–935 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/nmat3462

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