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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Tracking Nanoparticle Diffusion and Interaction during Self-Assembly in a Liquid Cell.

  • Author(s): Powers, Alexander S
  • Liao, Hong-Gang
  • Raja, Shilpa N
  • Bronstein, Noah D
  • Alivisatos, A Paul
  • Zheng, Haimei
  • et al.

Nanoparticle self-assembly has been well studied theoretically, but it remains challenging to directly observe and quantify individual nanoparticle interactions. With our custom image analysis method, we track the trajectories of nanoparticle movement with high precision from a stack of relatively noisy images obtained using liquid cell transmission electron microscopy. In a time frame of minutes, Pt-Fe nanoparticles self-assembled into a loosely packed hcp lattice. The energetics and stability of the dynamic assembly were studied quantitatively. From velocity and diffusion measurements, we experimentally determined the magnitude of forces between single particles and the related physical properties. The results illustrate that long-range anisotropic forces drive the formation of chains, which then clump and fold to maximize close range van der Waals interactions.

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