In situ TEM and analytical STEM studies of ZnO nanotubes with Sn cores and Sn nanodrops

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Piqueras de Noriega, Javier
Häußler, Dietrich
Jäger, Wolfgang
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IOP Publishing Ltd
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ZnO nanorods with Sn core regions grown by a thermal evaporation–deposition method from a mixture of SnO_2 and ZnS powders as precursors, are used to study the behaviour of liquid metal in the nanotubes' core regions and the formation of liquid metal nanodrops at the tube ends by in situ TEM experiments. The compositions of the core materials and of the nanodrops were assessed by employing HAADF-STEM imaging and spatially resolved EDXS measurements. By applying variable thermal load through changing the electron-beam flux of the electron microscope, melting of the metallic core can be induced and the behaviour of the liquid metal of the nanorods can be monitored locally. Within the nanorod core, melting and reversible thermal expansion and contraction of Sn core material is reproducibly observed. For nanotubes with core material near-tip regions, a nanodrop emerges from the tip upon melting the core material, followed by reabsorption of the melt into the core and re-solidification upon decreasing the heat load, being reminiscent of a 'soldering nanorod'. The radius of the liquid nanodrop can reach a few tens of nanometres, containing a total volume of 10^20 up to 10^18 l of liquid Sn. In situ TEM confirms that the radius of the nanodrop can be controlled via the thermal load: it increases with increasing temperature and decreases with decreasing temperature. In addition, some phenomena related to structure modifications during extended electron-beam exposure are also described.
© 2013 IOP Publishing Ltd The support of MICINN (Projects MAT 2009-07882 and CDS 2009-00013) is acknowledged. Y Ortega thanks the Spanish Ministry of Education for financial support through the ‘José Castillejo’ mobility grant program.
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