ACS nano

Bulk metallic glass-like scattering signal in small metallic nanoparticles.

PMID 24871305


The atomic structure of Ni-Pd nanoparticles has been studied using atomic pair distribution function (PDF) analysis of X-ray total scattering data and with transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Larger nanoparticles have PDFs corresponding to the bulk face-centered cubic packing. However, the smallest nanoparticles have PDFs that strongly resemble those obtained from bulk metallic glasses (BMGs). In fact, by simply scaling the distance axis by the mean metallic radius, the curves may be collapsed onto each other and onto the PDF from a metallic glass sample. In common with a wide range of BMG materials, the intermediate range order may be fit with a damped single-frequency sine wave. When viewed in high-resolution TEM, these nanoparticles exhibit atomic fringes typical of those seen in small metallic clusters with icosahedral or decahedral order. These two seemingly contradictory results are reconciled by calculating the PDFs of models of icosahedra that would be consistent with the fringes seen in TEM. These model PDFs resemble the measured ones when significant atom-position disorder is introduced, drawing together the two diverse fields of metallic nanoparticles and BMGs and supporting the view that BMGs may contain significant icosahedral or decahedral order.