Experimental and theoretical studies of instabilities of metal nanoparticles: a new kind of quasimelting
- Cite this article as:
- Ascencio, J., Pérez-Alvarez, M., Tehuacanero, S. et al. Appl Phys A (2001) 73: 295. doi:10.1007/s003390100850
In this work we report experimental and theoretical studies of structural instabilities of gold nanoparticles supported on a carbon substrate using high-resolution transmission microscopy and molecular dynamics simulations. It is shown that particles undergo structural fluctuations in which a particle exhibits a change in orientation whilst maintaining the overall structure. These fluctuations are of a different kind than the ones reported in previous work, in which transitions between different structures or the appearance, movement or vanishing of twin boundaries are observed. Computer calculations were performed using a model that included both the particle and the substrate. It is found that during the fluctuations there is a collective displacement of the atoms at the interface between the gold and the carbon substrate that results in a larger contact area. Calculations of particle stability that include the interaction with the carbon substrate show that different orientations of the particle have similar energies. As a result, during the fluctuations the particle becomes trapped between different orientations of the same structure. This kind of phenomenon can be considered as a new kind of quasimelting.