Observation of Single Colloidal Platinum Nanocrystal Growth Trajectories
It is conventionally assumed that the growth of monodisperse colloidal nanocrystals requires a temporally discrete nucleation followed by monomer attachment onto the existing nuclei. However, recent studies have reported violations of this classical growth model, and have suggested that inter-particle interactions are also involved during the growth. Mechanisms of nanocrystal growth still remain controversial. Using in situ transmission electron microscopy, we show that platinum nanocrystals can grow either by monomer attachment from solution onto the existing particles or by coalescence between the particles. Surprisingly, an initially broad size distribution of the nanocrystals can spontaneously narrow. We suggest that nanocrystals take different pathways of growth based on their size- and morphology-dependent internal energies. These observations are expected to be highly relevant for other nanocrystal systems.