Nanoparticles are by definition tiny and hard to see. But a team of researchers have made it possible to produce atomic-scale 3D images of nanoparticles using what they call a “graphene window.”
The technique is called 3D SINGLE (Structure Identification of Nanoparticles by Graphene Liquid cell Electron Microscopy). Achieving the desired effect involves capturing thousands of images of eight platinum nanoparticles suspended in liquid between two sheets of graphene, each only a single atom thick. The resulting images show the nanoparticles in a depth that hasn’t been seen before.
“This is an exciting result. We can now measure atomic positions in three dimensions down to a precision six times smaller than hydrogen, the smallest atom,” said study co-author Peter Ercius, a staff scientist at Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry.
The discovery, which according to Graphene-info improves upon a method first discovered in 2015, was made in collaboration with researchers at Berkeley Lab, Institute for Basic Science (South Korea), Monash University (Australia) and UC Berkeley.
“With 3D SINGLE, we can determine why such small nanoparticles are more efficient catalysts than larger ones in fuel cells and hydrogen vehicles,” Ercius told Graphene-info.