Shown here are two nanoparticles with cadmium cores encased in cadmium chloride shells, growing and merging with each other over the course of about 50 seconds. The union of the particles was recorded by Qiubo Zhang, a postdoc in Haimei Zheng’s lab at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, using high-resolution liquid cell transmission electron microscopy (LC-TEM). The video shows that the particles’ growth is guided by a defect in the right-hand particle’s shell, which contradicts long-held notions about how particles in solution combine through a size-driven process known as Ostwald ripening.
Zheng’s group uses advanced TEM methods to look how nanoscale imperfections impact dynamic physical and chemical processes. Understanding the factors that influence nanoparticles’ growth, Zheng says, will help scientists design better materials for use in catalysis and energy storage. The team published their findings in Nature Communications earlier this year (DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-29847-8).
Credit: Haimei Zheng/LBNL
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This story was updated on July 10, 2023, to correct the name of the process thought to drive particle growth. It is Ostwald ripening, not Oswald ripening.