Electroless formation of silver nanoaggregates: an experimental and molecular dynamics approach

F Gentile and M Monteferrante and L Chiodo and A Toma and ML Coluccio and G Ciccotti and E Di Fabrizio, MOLECULAR PHYSICS, 112, 1375-1388 (2014).

DOI: 10.1080/00268976.2014.902518

The ability to manipulate matter to create non-conventional structures is one of the key issues of material science. The understanding of assembling mechanism at the nanoscale allows us to engineer new nanomaterials, with physical properties intimately depending on their structure. This paper describes new strategies to obtain and characterise metal nanostructures via the combination of a top-down method, such as electron beam lithography, and a bottom-up technique, such as the chemical electroless deposition. We realised silver nanoparticle aggregates within well-defined patterned holes created by electron beam lithography on silicon substrates. The quality characteristics of the nanoaggregates were verified by using scanning electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy imaging. Moreover, we compared the experimental findings to molecular dynamics simulations of nanoparticles growth. We observed a very high dependence of the structure characteristics on the pattern nanowell aspect ratio. We found that high-quality metal nanostructures may be obtained in patterns with well aspect ratio close to one, corresponding to a maximum diameter of 50nm, a limit above which the fabricated structures become less regular and discontinuous. When regular shapes and sizes are necessary, as in nanophotonics, these results suggest the pattern characteristics to obtain isolated, uniform and reproducible metal nanospheres.

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