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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Atomic Structure of Ultrathin Gold Nanowires.

Abstract

Understanding of the atomic structure and stability of nanowires (NWs) is critical for their applications in nanotechnology, especially when the diameter of NWs reduces to ultrathin scale (1-2 nm). Here, using aberration-corrected high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (AC-HRTEM), we report a detailed atomic structure study of the ultrathin Au NWs, which are synthesized using a silane-mediated approach. The NWs contain large amounts of generalized stacking fault defects. These defects evolve upon sustained electron exposure, and simultaneously the NWs undergo necking and breaking. Quantitative strain analysis reveals the key role of strain in the breakdown process. Besides, ligand-like morphology is observed at the surface of the NWs, indicating the possibility of using AC-HRTEM for surface ligand imaging. Moreover, the coalescence dynamic of ultrathin Au NWs is demonstrated by in situ observations. This work provides a comprehensive understanding of the structure of ultrathin metal NWs at atomic-scale and could have important implications for their applications.

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