Structure analysis on the nanoscale: closed WS2 nanoboxes through a cascade of topo- and epitactic processes†
Closed WS2 nanoboxes were formed by topotactic sulfidization of a WO3/WO3·⅓H2O intergrowth precursor. Automated diffraction tomography was used to elucidate the growth mechanism of these unconventional hollow structures. By partial conversion and structural analysis of the products, each of them representing a snapshot of the reaction at a given point in time, the overall reaction can be broken down into a cascade of individual steps and each of them identified with a basic mechanism. During the initial step of sulfidization WO3·⅓H2O transforms into hexagonal WO3 whose surface allows for the epitaxial induction of WS2. The initially formed platelets of WS2 exhibit a preferred orientation with respect to the nanorod surface. In the final step individual layers of WS2 coalesce to form closed shells. In essence, a cascade of several topotactic reactions leads to epitactic induction and formation of closed rectangular hollow boxes made up from hexagonal layers.