Formation of salt crystal whiskers on porous nanoparticle coatings

Langmuir. 2010 Feb 16;26(4):2847-56. doi: 10.1021/la902902k.


Salt crystal whiskers were grown from aqueous solution on porous nanoparticle silica coatings. Coated substrates were partially immersed in an aqueous potassium chloride solution and then kept in a controlled relative humidity chamber for whisker growth. The salt solution was pulled into the porous coating, reaching a steady level about 1 h after immersion. Crystals with whisker morphologies, typically 2-50 microm in lateral dimension and up to approximately 1 cm in length, emerged from the coating surface at a position above the original liquid level. Crystallites pushed upward by attached whiskers indicated a base growth mechanism in which ions are added to the surface of a growing whisker that is in contact with the coating. Sheetlike crystals formed from the base growth of whiskers that had fallen flat onto the porous coating surface. The effects of solution concentration and relative humidity on growth were characterized and used to elaborate the transport phenomena and growth mechanisms. Salt whiskers were also grown on bare substrates immersed in salt solutions containing nanoparticles. In this case, growth occurred below the original contact line on coatings created by convective assembly.