Liquid-like pseudoelasticity of sub-10-nm crystalline silver particles

Nat Mater. 2014 Nov;13(11):1007-12. doi: 10.1038/nmat4105. Epub 2014 Oct 12.


In nanotechnology, small-volume metals with large surface area are used as electrodes, catalysts, interconnects and antennae. Their shape stability at room temperature has, however, been questioned. Using in situ high-resolution transmission electron microscopy, we find that Ag nanoparticles can be deformed like a liquid droplet but remain highly crystalline in the interior, with no sign of dislocation activity during deformation. Surface-diffusion-mediated pseudoelastic deformation is evident at room temperature, which can be driven by either an external force or capillary-energy minimization. Atomistic simulations confirm that such highly unusual Coble pseudoelasticity can indeed happen for sub-10-nm Ag particles at room temperature and at timescales from seconds to months.

Publication types

  • Letter