Correlating structure, morphology and properties of metal nanostructures by combining single-particle optical spectroscopy and electron microscopy
The nanoscale morphology of metal nanostructures directly defines their optical, catalytic and electronic properties and even small morphological changes can cause significant property variations. On the one hand, this dependence allows for precisely tuning and exploring properties by shape engineering; next to advanced synthesis protocols, post-synthesis modification through tailored laser modification has become an emerging tool to do so. On the other hand, with this interconnection also comes the quest for detailed structure–property correlation and understanding of laser-induced reshaping processes on the individual nanostructure level beyond ensemble averages. With the development of single-particle (ultrafast) optical spectroscopy techniques and advanced electron microscopy such understanding can in principle be gained at the femtosecond temporal and atomic spatial scale, respectively. However, accessing both on the same individual nanostructure is far from straightforward as it requires the combination of optical spectroscopy and electron microscopy. In this Minireview, we highlight key studies from recent years that performed such correlative measurements on the same individual metal nanostructure either in a consecutive ex situ manner or in situ inside the electron microscope. We demonstrate that such a detailed correlation is critical for revealing the full picture of the structure–property relationship and the physics behind light-induced nanostructure modifications. We put emphasis on the advantages and disadvantages of each methodology as well as on the unique information that one can gain only by correlative studies performed on the same individual nanostructure and end with an outlook on possible further development of this field in the near future.
- This article is part of the themed collections: Celebrating International Women’s Day: Women in Nanoscience, Recent Review Articles and Nanoscale 2022 Emerging Investigators