In Situ Electron Microscopy of Transformations of Copper Nanoparticles under Plasmonic Excitation

Francis M. Alcorn, Renske M. van der Veen, Prashant K. Jain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Metal nanoparticles are attracting interest for their light-absorption properties, but such materials are known to dynamically evolve under the action of chemical and physical perturbations, resulting in changes in their structure and composition. Using a transmission electron microscope equipped for optical excitation of the specimen, the structural evolution of Cu-based nanoparticles under simultaneous electron beam irradiation and plasmonic excitation was investigated with high spatiotemporal resolution. These nanoparticles initially have a Cu core-Cu2O oxide shell structure, but over the course of imaging, they undergo hollowing via the nanoscale Kirkendall effect. We captured the nucleation of a void within the core, which then rapidly grows along specific crystallographic directions until the core is hollowed out. Hollowing is triggered by electron-beam irradiation; plasmonic excitation enhances the kinetics of the transformation likely by the effect of photothermal heating.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6520-6527
Number of pages8
JournalNano letters
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 26 2023


  • LSPR
  • TEM
  • diffusion
  • hollow nanostructures
  • nanoscale Kirkendall effect
  • operando measurements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering


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