Approaches to Exploring Spatio-Temporal Surface Dynamics in Nanoparticles with In Situ Transmission Electron Microscopy
Abstract Many nanoparticles in fields such as heterogeneous catalysis undergo surface structural fluctuations during chemical reactions, which may control functionality. These dynamic structural changes may be ideally investigated with time-resolved in situ electron microscopy. We have explored approaches for extracting quantitative information from large time-resolved image data sets with a low signal to noise recorded with a direct electron detector on an aberration-corrected transmission electron microscope. We focus on quantitatively characterizing beam-induced dynamic structural rearrangements taking place on the surface of CeO 2 (ceria). A 2D Gaussian fitting procedure is employed to determine the position and occupancy of each atomic column in the nanoparticle with a temporal resolution of 2.5 ms and a spatial precision of 0.25 Å. Local rapid lattice expansions/contractions and atomic migration were revealed to occur on the (100) surface, whereas (111) surfaces were relatively stable throughout the experiment. The application of this methodology to other materials will provide new insights into the behavior of nanoparticle surface reconstructions that were previously inaccessible using other methods, which will have important consequences for the understanding of dynamic structure–property relationships.