Atomic motion at grain boundaries is essential to microstructure development, growth and stability of catalysts and other nanostructured materials. However, boundary atomic motion is often too fast to observe in a conventional transmission electron microscope (TEM) and too slow for ultrafast electron microscopy. Here, we report on the entire transformation process of strained Pt icosahedral nanoparticles (ICNPs) into larger FCC crystals, captured at 2.5 ms time resolution using a fast electron camera. Results show slow diffusive dislocation motion at nm/s inside ICNPs and fast surface transformation at μm/s. By characterizing nanoparticle strain, we show that the fast transformation is driven by inhomogeneous surface stress. And interaction with pre-existing defects led to the slowdown of the transformation front inside the nanoparticles. Particle coalescence, assisted by oxygen-induced surface migration at T ≥ 300 °C, also played a critical role. Thus by studying transformation in the Pt ICNPs at high time and spatial resolution, we obtain critical insights into the transformation mechanisms in strained Pt nanoparticles.
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