Four-dimensional (4D) electron microscopy (EM) uniquely combines the high spatial resolution to pinpoint individual nano-objects, with the high temporal resolution necessary to address the dynamics of their laser-induced transformation. Here, using 4D-EM, we demonstrate the in situ irreversible transformation of individual nanoparticles of the molecular framework Fe(pyrazine)Pt(CN)4. The newly formed material exhibits an unusually large negative thermal expansion (i.e. contraction), which is revealed by time-resolved imaging and diffraction. Negative thermal expansion is a unique property exhibited by only few materials. Here we show that the increased flexibility of the metal–cyanide framework after the removal of the bridging pyrazine ligands is responsible for the negative thermal expansion behavior of the new material. This in situ visualization of single nanostructures during reactions should be extendable to other classes of reactive systems.
  • Single-nanoparticle phase transitions visualized by four-dimensional electron microscopy
    R.M. Van der Veen, O.-H. Kwon, A. Tissot, A. Hauser and A.H. Zewail
    Nature Chemistry, 5 (5) (2013), p395-402
    DOI:10.1038/NCHEM.1622 | unige:27715 | Abstract | Article HTML | Article PDF

The advancement of techniques that can probe the behaviour of individual nanoscopic objects is of paramount importance in various disciplines, including photonics and electronics. As it provides images with a spatiotemporal resolution, four-dimensional electron microscopy, in principle, should enable the visualization of single-nanoparticle structural dynamics in real and reciprocal space. Here, we demonstrate the selectivity and sensitivity of the technique by visualizing the spin crossover dynamics of single, isolated metal–organic framework nanocrystals. By introducing a small aperture in the microscope, it was possible to follow the phase transition and the associated structural dynamics within a single particle. Its behaviour was observed to be distinct from that imaged by averaging over ensembles of heterogeneous nanoparticles. The approach reported here has potential applications in other nanosystems and those that undergo (bio)chemical transformations.
  • Time-resolved x-ray absorption spectroscopy: Watching atoms dance
    C.J Milne, V.-T. Pham, W. Gawelda, R.M Van der Veen, A. El Nahhas, S.L Johnson, P. Beaud, G. Ingold, F. Lima, D.A Vithanage, M. Benfatto, D. Grolimund, C. Borca, M. Kaiser, A. Hauser, R. Abela, C. Bressler and M. Chergui
    Journal of Physics: Conference Series, 190 (2009), p12052
    DOI:10.1088/1742-6596/190/1/012052 | Abstract | Article PDF
The introduction of pump-probe techniques to the field of x-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) has allowed the monitoring of both structural and electronic dynamics of disordered systems in the condensed phase with unprecedented accuracy, both in time and in space. We present results on the electronically excited high-spin state structure of an Fe(II) molecular species, [FeII(bpy)3]2+, in aqueous solution, resolving the Fe-N bond distance elongation as 0.2 Å. In addition an analysis technique using the reduced χ2 goodness of fit between FEFF EXAFS simulations and the experimental transient absorption signal in energy space has been successfully tested as a function of excited state population and chemical shift, demonstrating its applicability in situations where the fractional excited state population cannot be determined through other measurements. Finally by using a novel ultrafast hard x-ray 'slicing' source the question of how the molecule relaxes after optical excitation has been successfully resolved using femtosecond XANES.



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