Dynamic deformability of individual PbSe nanocrystals during superlattice phase transitions

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Science Advances  07 Jun 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 6, eaaw5623
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw5623


The behavior of individual nanocrystals during superlattice phase transitions can profoundly affect the structural perfection and electronic properties of the resulting superlattices. However, details of nanocrystal morphological changes during superlattice phase transitions are largely unknown due to the lack of direct observation. Here, we report the dynamic deformability of PbSe semiconductor nanocrystals during superlattice phase transitions that are driven by ligand displacement. Real-time high-resolution imaging with liquid-phase transmission electron microscopy reveals that following ligand removal, the individual PbSe nanocrystals experience drastic directional shape deformation when the spacing between nanocrystals reaches 2 to 4 nm. The deformation can be completely recovered when two nanocrystals move apart or it can be retained when they attach. The large deformation, which is responsible for the structural defects in the epitaxially fused nanocrystal superlattice, may arise from internanocrystal dipole–dipole interactions.

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