In situ transmission electron microscopy as a toolbox for the emerging science of nanometallurgy

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Potential applications of nanomaterials range from electronics to environmental technology, thus a better understanding of their manufacturing and manipulation is of paramount importance. The present study demonstrates a methodology for the use of metallic nanomaterials as reactants to examine nanoalloying in situ within a transmission electron microscope. The method is further utilised as a starting point of a metallurgical toolbox, e.g. to study subsequent alloying of materials by using a nanoscale-sized chemical reactor for nanometallurgy. Cu nanowires and Au nanoparticles are used for alloying with pure Al, which served as the matrix material in the form of electron transparent lamellae. The results showed that both the Au and Cu nanomaterials alloyed when Al was melted in the transmission electron microscope. However, the eutectic reaction was more pronounced in the Al–Cu system, as predicted from the phase diagram. Interestingly, the mixing of the alloying agents occurred independently of the presence of an oxide layer surrounding the nanowires, nanoparticles, or the Al lamellae while performing the experiments. Overall, these results suggest that transmission electron microscope-based in situ melting and alloying is a valuable lab-on-a-chip technique to study the metallurgical processing of nanomaterials for the future development of advanced nanostructured materials.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3186-3193
Number of pages8
JournalLab on a Chip
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 2023

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