Symmetry breaking and silver in gold nanorod growth

Michael J. Walsh, Steven J. Barrow, Wenming Tong, Alison M. Funston, Joanne Etheridge

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57 Citations (Scopus)


Formation of anisotropic nanocrystals from isotropic single-crystal precursors
requires an essential symmetry breaking event. Single-crystal gold nanorods have become the model system for investigating the synthesis of anisotropic nanoparticles, and their growth mechanism continues to be the subject of intense investigation. Despite this, very little is known about the symmetry breaking event that precedes shape anisotropy. In particular, there remains limited understanding of how an isotropic seed particle becomes asymmetric and of the growth parameters that trigger and drive this process. Here, we present direct atomic-scale observations of the nanocrystal structure at the embryonic stages of gold nanorod growth. The onset of asymmetry of the nascent crystals is observed to occur only for single-crystal particles that have reached diameters of 46 nm and only in the presence of silver ions. In this size range, small, asymmetric truncating surfaces with an open atomic structure become apparent. Furthermore, {111} twin planes are observed in some immature nanorods within 13 monolayers of the surface. These results provide direct observation of the structural changes that break the symmetry of isotropic nascent nanocrystals and ultimately enable the growth of asymmetric nanocrystals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)715 - 724
Number of pages10
JournalACS Nano
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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