Crystallographic reorientation and nanoparticle coalescence
Complementary experimental and theoretical results on the coalescence of nanoparticles demonstrate the importance of the crystallographic orientation on the coalescence process. In situ hot-stage transmission electron microscopy studies on self-supporting films consisting of indium tin oxide nanoparticles clearly show rotations of neighboring particles preceding their coalescence. Both rotation and coalescence are observed well below half the melting temperature. The coalescence of two adjacent nanoparticles is simulated by means of a combination of the kinetic Monte Carlo method for atomic diffusion with an integration of the equations of motion for the rigid body degrees of freedom of the two particles. This allows analyzing the reorientation of the two crystal lattices prior to the merging process. Thus, nanoparticle coalescence has theoretically as well as experimentally been shown to be a two-step process: first a reorientation of adjacent nanoparticles, and second their complete or incomplete coalescence depending on the matching of the crystallographic orientations.
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