Letter | Published:

Liquid-like pseudoelasticity of sub-10-nm crystalline silver particles

Nature Materials volume 13, pages 10071012 (2014) | Download Citation

Abstract

In nanotechnology, small-volume metals with large surface area are used as electrodes, catalysts, interconnects and antennae1,2,3,4. Their shape stability at room temperature has, however, been questioned. Using in situ high-resolution transmission electron microscopy, we find that Ag nanoparticles can be deformed like a liquid droplet but remain highly crystalline in the interior, with no sign of dislocation activity during deformation5,6. Surface-diffusion-mediated pseudoelastic deformation is evident at room temperature, which can be driven by either an external force or capillary-energy minimization. Atomistic simulations confirm that such highly unusual Coble pseudoelasticity can indeed happen for sub-10-nm Ag particles at room temperature and at timescales from seconds to months.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the National Basic Research Program of China under grant Nos. 2011CB707601 and 2012CB619402, the National Natural Science Foundation of China under grant Nos. 61274114, 113279028, 51201032 and 51071044, the Key Grant Project of Chinese Ministry of Education under grant No. 311019, and the Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province under grant Nos. BK2011592 and BK2012024. Y-C.L. thanks E. Bitzek (Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg) and J. C. Huang (National Sun Yat-Sen University) for kind support. J.L. and Y-C.L. would like to acknowledge support from NSF DMR-1120901 and DMR-1240933. Computational time on the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) under grants TG-DMR130038, TG-DMR140003 and TG-PHY140014 is gratefully acknowledged.

Author information

Author notes

    • Jun Sun
    • , Longbing He
    •  & Yu-Chieh Lo

    These authors contributed equally to this work.

Affiliations

  1. SEU-FEI Nano-Pico Center, Key Lab of MEMS of Ministry of Education, Southeast University, Nanjing, 210096, China

    • Jun Sun
    • , Longbing He
    • , Tao Xu
    • , Hengchang Bi
    •  & Litao Sun
  2. Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA

    • Yu-Chieh Lo
    •  & Ju Li
  3. Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA

    • Yu-Chieh Lo
    •  & Ju Li
  4. Center for Elements Strategy Initiative for Structural Materials (ESISM), Kyoto University, Sakyo, Kyoto 606-8501, Japan

    • Yu-Chieh Lo
  5. Department of Materials Science and Engineering, State Key Laboratory of Silicon Materials, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, 310027, China

    • Ze Zhang
  6. Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, University of Pittsburgh, 3700 O’Hara Street Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15261, USA

    • Scott X. Mao

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Contributions

L.S., J.L. and Z.Z. proposed and supervised the project, J.S., L.H., T.X. and H.B. performed the experiments, and Y-C.L. performed the simulations. L.S., J.L., Z.Z. and S.X.M. analysed data and wrote the manuscript. All the authors participated in discussions of the research.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Litao Sun or Ze Zhang or Ju Li.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nmat4105