Quasi-two-dimensional NaCl crystals encapsulated between graphene sheets and their decomposition under an electron beam

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A1 Alkuperäisartikkeli tieteellisessä aikakauslehdessä
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Date
2021-12-14
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Language
en
Pages
8
19626-19633
Series
Nanoscale, Volume 13, issue 46
Abstract
Quasi-two-dimensional (2D) sodium chloride (NaCl) crystals of various lateral sizes between graphene sheets were manufactured via supersaturation from a saline solution. Aberration-corrected transmission electron microscopy was used for systematic in situ investigations of the crystals and their decomposition under an 80 kV electron beam. Counterintuitively, bigger clusters were found to disintegrate faster under electron irradiation, but in general no correlation between crystal sizes and electron doses at which the crystals decompose was found. As for the destruction process, an abrupt decomposition of the crystals was observed, which can be described by a logistic decay function. Density-functional theory molecular dynamics simulations provide insights into the destruction mechanism, and indicate that even without account for ionization and electron excitations, free-standing NaCl crystals must quickly disintegrate due to the ballistic displacement of atoms from their surface and edges during imaging. However, graphene sheets mitigate damage development by stopping the displaced atoms and enable the immediate recombination of defects at the surface of the crystal. At the same time, once a hole in graphene appears, the displaced atoms escape, giving rise to the quick destruction of the crystal. Our results provide quantitative data on the stability of encapsulated quasi 2D NaCl crystals under electron irradiation and allow the conclusion that only high-quality graphene is suitable for protecting ionic crystals from beam damage in electron microscopy studies.
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Keywords
RADIATION-DAMAGE, SQUARE ICE, MICROSCOPY, DEFECTS, GROWTH
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Citation
Lehnert , T , Kretschmer , S , Braeuer , F , Krasheninnikov , A & Kaiser , U 2021 , ' Quasi-two-dimensional NaCl crystals encapsulated between graphene sheets and their decomposition under an electron beam ' , Nanoscale , vol. 13 , no. 46 , pp. 19626-19633 . https://doi.org/10.1039/d1nr04792b