News Release

Seeing below the surface of bimetallic nanoparticles

Researchers from Osaka University report a new technique for tracking the synthesis of core–shell bimetallic nanoparticles

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Osaka University

Fig. 1

image: Metal atoms in nanoparticles can appear on the surface when the nanoparticles are coated with a different metal. view more 

Credit: Nobutomo Nakamura et al.

Osaka, Japan – Nanoparticles are important in many disciplines because their high surface area compared with their volume gives them interesting properties. Continued development of analytical methods for nanoparticles is therefore crucial. Researchers from Osaka University have reported a way of characterizing the formation of a particular kind of metal nanoparticles in real time. Their findings are published in Physical Review B.

Core–shell nanoparticles comprise one type of material encapsulated within another and offer properties that are not available using just one material.

When the materials are metals, and one is deposited on top of the other, certain features of the metals—for example the atom size and the surface energy—mean they should organize with a particular metal as the shell. However, in practice, the result is not always what is expected and can change depending on the experimental procedure.

Methods for analyzing core–shell nanomaterials are generally applied after synthesis, providing little insight into what is happening during the formation process. The researchers therefore developed a technique that allowed them to follow the metal deposition and restructuring in real time at room temperature.

“Our technique is based on the idea that if the higher surface energy metal forms the shell, the surface area of the particle wants to minimize so it tightens the sphere,” explains first author Nobutomo Nakamura. “However, if there is interdiffusion of the metals, the structure of the core–shell particles is more dispersed. We therefore tracked the difference in particle shape using a piezoelectric resonator.”

The shape changes were followed by growing nanoparticles very close together on a substrate and then monitoring the interparticle distance through the resistance.

If the electric field excited by the resonator caused electrons to move between particles that were spaced apart, then the resistance was high because the flow was interrupted by the gaps. However, if the particles spread and touched, forming a continuous path, then the resistance decreased. This information was then used to interpret what was happening inside the particles.

The system was used to investigate three different combinations of two metals, deposited in both orders. It was found that the depositions could be followed in real time and deposition of gold followed by palladium notably led to interdiffusion, forming core–shell particles with a structure opposite to the deposition order.

“Our technique offers the opportunity to fine-tune the preparation of bimetallic core–shell nanoparticles,” says Associate Professor Nakamura. “This control is expected to lead to the custom design of nanomaterials for applications such as hydrogen sensing and sustainable processing.”


The article, “Restructuring in bimetallic core–shell nanoparticles: Real time observation,” was published in Physical Review B.



About Osaka University

Osaka University was founded in 1931 as one of the seven imperial universities of Japan and is now one of Japan's leading comprehensive universities with a broad disciplinary spectrum. This strength is coupled with a singular drive for innovation that extends throughout the scientific process, from fundamental research to the creation of applied technology with positive economic impacts. Its commitment to innovation has been recognized in Japan and around the world, being named Japan's most innovative university in 2015 (Reuters 2015 Top 100) and one of the most innovative institutions in the world in 2017 (Innovative Universities and the Nature Index Innovation 2017). Now, Osaka University is leveraging its role as a Designated National University Corporation selected by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology to contribute to innovation for human welfare, sustainable development of society, and social transformation.



Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.