On the passivation of iron particles at the nanoscale†
The oxidation of Fe@Au core@shell clusters with sizes below 5 nm is studied via high resolution scanning transmission electron microscopy. The bimetallic nanoparticles are grown in superfluid helium droplets under fully inert conditions, avoiding any effect of solvents or template structures, and deposited on amorphous carbon. Oxidation resistivity is tested by exposure to oxygen at ambient conditions. The passivating effect of Au-shells is studied in detail and a critical Au shell thickness is determined which keeps the Fe core completely unharmed. Additionally, we present the first synthesis of Fe@Au@Fe-oxide onion-type structures.