Dendritic gold nanowire growth observed in liquid with transmission electron microscopy

The growth of nanoscale gold dendrites was studied in situ in a thin liquid film with transmission electron microscopy (TEM) using a liquid cell with silicon nitride (SiN) windows. Gold nanoparticle seeds were covered by a thin liquid layer containing precursor solution. Dendrite nucleation was induced by the electron beam leading to an initial burst of growth. The growth then settled at tip velocities between 0.1 and 2.0 nm/s for different dendrites. Tip velocities fluctuated as different dendrite geometries grew from the tips. Those dendrites showing granularities in their structure experienced the largest growth speed. Comparison of the observed velocities with diffusion-limited growth rates suggests that dendrite growth in thin films at this scale is limited by diffusion. The described method may find application in research on the mechanisms behind dendrite growth and also to study other types of anisotropic growth of nanomaterials driven by crystal and twin geometries.