A new reliable method for determining the lattice spacings of metallic and bimetallic nanoparticles in phase contrast high resolution electron microscopy (HREM) images was developed. In this study, we discuss problems in applying HREM techniques to single metal (Pt and Au) and bimetallic (AuPd) nanoparticles of unknown shapes and random orientations. Errors arising from particle tilt and edge effects are discussed and analysis criteria are presented to reduce these errors in measuring the lattice parameters of nanoparticles. The accuracy of an individual particle lattice measurement is limited by an effective standard deviation which depends on the size of the individual nanoparticle. For example, the standard deviation for 20-30Å Pt or Au nanoparticles is about 1.5%. To increase the accuracy in determining the lattice spacings of nanoparticles, statistical methods have to be used to obtain the average lattice spacing of an ensemble of nanoparticles. We measured approximately 100 nanoparticles with sizes in the range of 20-30Å and found that the mean lattice spacing can be determined to within 0.2%. By applying Vegard's law to the AuPd bimetallic systems we successfully detected the presence of alloying. For 30Å nanoparticles, the estimated ultimate error in determining the composition of the AuPd alloy is about 3% provided that at least 100 particles are measured. Finally, the challenges in determining the presence of more than one alloy phases in bimetallic nanoparticle systems were also discussed.
- Bimetallic nanoparticles
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics