Liquid-like pseudoelasticity of sub-10-nm crystalline silver particles
J Sun and LB He and YC Lo and T Xu and HC Bi and LT Sun and Z Zhang and SX Mao and J Li, NATURE MATERIALS, 13, 1007-1012 (2014).
In nanotechnology, small-volume metals with large surface area are used as electrodes, catalysts, interconnects and antennae(1-4). Their shape stability at room temperature has, however, been questioned. Using in situ high-resolution transmission electron microscopy, we find that Ag nanoparticles can be deformed like a liquid droplet but remain highly crystalline in the interior, with no sign of dislocation activity during deformation(5,6). Surface-diffusion-mediated pseudoelastic deformation is evident at room temperature, which can be driven by either an external force or capillary-energy minimization. Atomistic simulations confirm that such highly unusual Coble pseudoelasticity can indeed happen for sub-10-nm Ag particles at room temperature and at timescales from seconds to months.
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