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Anomalous Growth Rate of Ag Nanocrystals Revealed by in situ STEM


In situ microscopy of colloidal nanocrystal growth offers a unique opportunity to acquire direct and straightforward data for assessing classical growth models. Here, we observe the growth trajectories of individual Ag nanoparticles in solution using in situ scanning transmission electron microscopy. For the first time, we provide experimental evidence of growth rates of Ag nanoparticles in the presence of Pt in solution that are significantly faster than predicted by Lifshitz-Slyozov-Wagner theory. We attribute these observed anomalous growth rates to the synergistic effects of the catalytic properties of Pt and the electron beam itself. Transiently reduced Pt atoms serve as active sites for Ag ions to grow, thereby playing a key role in controlling the growth kinetics. Electron beam illumination greatly increases the local concentration of free radicals, thereby strongly influencing particle growth rate and the resulting particle morphology. Through a systematic investigation, we demonstrate the feasibility of utilizing these synergistic effects for controlling the growth rates and particle morphologies at the nanoscale. Our findings not only expand the current scope of crystal growth theory, but may also lead to a broader scientific application of nanocrystal synthesis.

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