We report the transformation of nickel clusters into NiO rings by an electron beam induced nanoscale Kirkendall effect. High-purity nickel clusters consisting of a few thousand atoms have been used as precursors and were synthesized with the superfluid helium droplet technique. Aberration-corrected, analytical scanning transmission electron microscopy was applied to oxidise and simultaneously analyse the nanostructures. The transient dynamics of the oxidation could be documented by time lapse series using high-angle annular dark-field imaging and electron energy-loss spectroscopy. A two-step Cabrera-Mott oxidation mechanism was identified. It was found that water adsorbed adjacent to the clusters acts as oxygen source for the electron beam induced oxidation. The size-dependent oxidation rate was estimated by quantitative EELS measurements combined with molecular dynamics simulations. Our findings could serve to better control sample changes during examination in an electron microscope, and might provide a methodology to generate other metal oxide nanostructures.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Elektronische, optische und magnetische Materialien
- Atom- und Molekularphysik sowie Optik
Fields of Expertise
- Advanced Materials Science