Atom by atom: HRTEM insights into inorganic nanotubes and fullerene-like structures Academic Article uri icon


  • The characterization of nanostructures down to the atomic scale is essential to understand some physical properties. Such a characterization is possible today using direct imaging methods such as aberration-corrected high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM), when iteratively backed by advanced modeling produced by theoretical structure calculations and image calculations. Aberration-corrected HRTEM is therefore extremely useful for investigating low-dimensional structures, such as inorganic fullerene-like particles and inorganic nanotubes. The atomic arrangement in these nanostructures can lead to new insights into the growth mechanism or physical properties, where imminent commercial applications are unfolding. This article will focus on two structures that are symmetric and reproducible. The first structure that will be dealt with is the smallest stable symmetric closed-cage structure in the inorganic system, a MoS 2 nanooctahedron. It is investigated by means of aberration-corrected microscopy which allowed validating the suggested DFTB-MD model. It will be shown that structures diverging from the energetically most stable structures are present in the laser ablated soot and that the alignment of the different shells is parallel, unlike the bulk material where the alignment is antiparallel. These findings correspond well with the high-energy synthetic route and they provide more insight into the growth mechanism. The second structure studied is WS 2 nanotubes, which have already been shown to have a unique structure with very desirable mechanical properties. The joint HRTEM study combined with modeling reveals new information regarding the chirality of the different shells and provides a better understanding of their growth mechanism.

publication date

  • January 1, 2008