PerspectiveMaterials Science

Watching Solution Growth of Nanoparticles in Graphene Cells

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Science  06 Apr 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6077, pp. 44-45
DOI: 10.1126/science.1219835

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The characterization of grown nanoscale objects can now be realized at an unprecedented level of spatial resolution with transmission electron microscopes (TEMs). Crystalline structures can typically be resolved to better than 0.1 nm (1), chemical identification can be achieved at the level of single atoms or single atomic columns (2), and optical properties can be mapped at the nanometer scale (3). However, these frozen snapshots at defined stages after the growth process do not reveal the real-time dynamics of crystal nucleation and growth. To improve our understanding of the atomistic processes involved during these chemical reactions, sequences of high-resolution EM images of the specimen in the solution need to be recorded. On page 61 of this issue, Yuk et al. (4) report atomic-resolution images obtained with the Transmission Electron Aberration-Corrected Microscope I (TEAM I) (5) of colloidal platinum (Pt) nanocrystals growing inside liquid-containing cells bounded by graphene sheets that reveal unexpected insights into the growth mechanism.