PerspectiveMaterials Science

Watching Nanocrystals Grow

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Science  05 Jun 2009:
Vol. 324, Issue 5932, pp. 1276-1277
DOI: 10.1126/science.1174666

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The ability to observe individual chemical reactions in real time is reshaping our understanding of molecular processes, revealing subtleties previously hidden in ensemble averages. For example, single-molecule fluorescence detection methods have revolutionized optical microscopy and in situ studies of chemical and biological systems (1). Liquid cell in situ transmission electron microscopy (TEM) is poised to write a new chapter in the solution synthesis and processing of materials. On page 1309 of this issue, Zheng et al. use a TEM liquid cell that allows liquids to be examined within the vacuum environment of a TEM in an elegant experiment that uncovers dynamic processes in the growth of platinum (Pt) nanocrystals (2).