Real-Time Dynamical Observation of Lattice Induced Nucleation and Growth in Interfacial Solid–Solid Phase Transitions

Abstract

Uncovering dynamical processes of lattice induced epitaxial growth of nanocrystal on the support is critical to understanding crystallization, solid-phase epitaxial growth, Oswald ripening process, and advanced nanofabrication, all of which are linked to different important applications in the materials field. Here, we conduct direct <i>in situ</i> atomic-scale dynamical observation of segregated Bi layers on SrBi<sub>2</sub>Ta<sub>2</sub>O<sub>9</sub> support under low dose electron irradiation to explore the nucleation and growth from an initial disordered solid state to a stable faceted crystal by using aberration-corrected transmission electron microscopy. We provide, for the first time, atomic-scale insights into the initial prenucleation stage of lattice induced interfacial nucleation, size-dependent crystalline fluctuation, and stepped-growth stage of the formed nanocrystal on the oxide support at the atomic scale. We identify a critical diameter in forming a stable faceted configuration and find interestingly that the stable nanocrystal presents a size-dependent coalescence mechanism. These results offer an atomic-scale view into the dynamic process at solid/solid interfaces, which has implications for thin film growth and advanced nanofabrication

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