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TEM-Induced Structural Evolution in Amorphous Fe Oxide Nanoparticles

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journal contribution
posted on 04.10.2006, 00:00 authored by Andrew H. Latham, Mark J. Wilson, Peter Schiffer, Mary Elizabeth Williams
Exposure to the high energy electron beam of a TEM changes the morphology of amorphous Fe oxide nanoparticles from solid spheres to hollow shells. Amorphous Fe oxide nanoparticles prepared via high-temperature methods using hexadecylamine and trioctylphosphine oxide surfactants were compared to crystalline γ-Fe2O3 particles of similar size. Both sets of particles are fully characterized via SQUID magnetometry, X-ray powder diffraction, BET surface analysis, EPR spectroscopy, high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS). Time-resolved TEM images reveal that the amorphous Fe oxide particles evolve from solid spheres into hollow shells in <2 min, whereas crystalline γ-Fe2O3 are unaffected by the electron beam. The resulting nanocrystalline Fe oxide shells bear striking resemblance to core−shell nanocrystals, but are a result of a morphology change attributed to restructuring of particle voids and defects induced by quasi-melting in the TEM. These results thus imply that caution is necessary when using TEM to analyze nanoparticle core−shell and heterostructured nanoparticles.