In-situ imaging of nucleation and growth of superlattices from nanoscale colloidal nanoparticles

Zuochen Wang, Chang Liu, Qian Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nanoparticle-based superlattices have attracted extensive research efforts due to their versatile composition and packing-dependent optical, magnetic, electronic, catalytic, mechanical properties. Yet the experimental understanding of the thermodynamics and pathways of the crystallization processes for these systems, which govern their ultimate morphology, size, and packing structure, has for long remained underexplored. This minireview highlights recent integration of liquid-phase transmission electron microscopy, which allows for real-space, real-time direct imaging of the crystallization processes at the single-particle level, with simulation and the conceptual framework established by pioneers such as Dr. A. A. Chernov. Different aspects of superlattice formation were revealed by direct imaging for the first time, such as the existence of prenucleation precursor in nonclassical crystallization, surface energy-dependent growth, and coalescence, allowing for the charting of phase coordinates and thermodynamic quantities at the nanoscale. We discuss the similarities and differences of crystal growth behaviors in atomic and nanoparticle systems, as well as engineering opportunities to fashion, shape, and achieve quality control in superlattice formation from nanoparticles, for next-generation optical and mechanical metamaterials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number126955
JournalJournal of Crystal Growth
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023


  • A1. Characterization
  • A1. Nucleation
  • A2. Growth from solutions
  • B1. Nanomaterials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry


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