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Inflating hollow nanocrystals through a repeated Kirkendall cavitation process.


The Kirkendall effect has been recently used to produce hollow nanostructures by taking advantage of the different diffusion rates of species involved in the chemical transformations of nanoscale objects. Here we demonstrate a nanoscale Kirkendall cavitation process that can transform solid palladium nanocrystals into hollow palladium nanocrystals through insertion and extraction of phosphorus. The key to success in producing monometallic hollow nanocrystals is the effective extraction of phosphorus through an oxidation reaction, which promotes the outward diffusion of phosphorus from the compound nanocrystals of palladium phosphide and consequently the inward diffusion of vacancies and their coalescence into larger voids. We further demonstrate that this Kirkendall cavitation process can be repeated a number of times to gradually inflate the hollow metal nanocrystals, producing nanoshells of increased diameters and decreased thicknesses. The resulting thin palladium nanoshells exhibit enhanced catalytic activity and high durability toward formic acid oxidation.

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