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Mechanical Reshaping of Inorganic Nanostructures with Weak Nanoscale Forces

revised on 10.11.2020, 19:49 and posted on 11.11.2020, 12:13 by Sarah M. Rehn, Theodor M. Gerrard-Anderson, Liang Qiao, Qing Zhu, Geoff Wehmeyer, Matthew R. Jones

Inorganic nanomaterials are often depicted as rigid structures whose shape is permanent. However, forces that are ordinarily considered weak can exert sufficient stress at the nanoscale to drive mechanical deformation. Here, we leverage van der Waals (VdW) interactions to mechanically reshape inorganic nanostructures from planar to curvilinear. Modified plate deformation theory shows that high aspect ratio 2D particles can be plastically deformed via VdW forces. Informed by this finding, silver nanoplates were deformed over spherical iron oxide template particles, resulting in distinctive bend contour patterns in bright field (BF) transmission electron microscopy (TEM) images. High resolution (HR) TEM images of deformed areas reveal the presence of highly strained bonds in the material. Finally, we show the distance between two nearby template particles allows for the engineering of several distinct curvilinear morphologies. This work challenges the traditional view of nanoparticles as static objects and introduces methods for post-synthetic mechanical shape control.


NSF GRF #1450681

Rice University

Robert A. Welch Grant C-1954

Robert A. Welch Grant C-2023

David and Lucile Packard Foundation Grant 2018-68049


Email Address of Submitting Author


Rice University


United States

ORCID For Submitting Author


Declaration of Conflict of Interest

No conflict of interest