"Visualization of nanocrystal breathing modes at extreme strains"

Erzsi Szilagyi: Joshua S. Wittenberg, Timothy A. Miller, Katie Lutker, Florian Quirin, Henrik Lemke, Diling Zhu, Matthieu Chollet, Joseph Robinson, Haidan Wen, Klaus Sokolowski-Tinten & Aaron M. Lindenberg; Nature Communications, 03/12/15.

Additional Authors: Joshua S. Wittenberg, Timothy A. Miller, Katie Lutker, Florian Quirin, Henrik Lemke, Diling Zhu, Matthieu Chollet, Joseph Robinson, Haidan Wen, Klaus Sokolowski-Tinten & Aaron M. Lindenberg

Abstract:

Nanoscale dimensions in materials lead to unique electronic and structural properties with applications ranging from site-specific drug delivery to anodes for lithium-ion batteries. These functional properties often involve large-amplitude strains and structural modifications, and thus require an understanding of the dynamics of these processes. Here we use femtosecond X-ray scattering techniques to visualize, in real time and with atomic-scale resolution, light-induced anisotropic strains in nanocrystal spheres and rods. Strains at the percent level are observed in ​CdS and ​CdSe samples, associated with a rapid expansion followed by contraction along the nanosphere or nanorod radial direction driven by a transient carrier-induced stress. These morphological changes occur simultaneously with the first steps in the melting transition on hundreds of femtosecond timescales. This work represents the first direct real-time probe of the dynamics of these large-amplitude strains and shape changes in few-nanometre-scale particles.