The 3D-architecture of individual free silver nanoparticles captured by X-ray scattering Academic Article uri icon


  • The diversity of nanoparticle shapes generated by condensation from gaseous matter reflects the fundamental competition between thermodynamic equilibration and the persistence of metastable configurations during growth. In the kinetically limited regime, intermediate geometries that are favoured only in early formation stages can be imprinted in the finally observed ensemble of differently structured specimens. Here we demonstrate that single-shot wide-angle scattering of femtosecond soft X-ray free-electron laser pulses allows three-dimensional characterization of the resulting metastable nanoparticle structures. For individual free silver particles, which can be considered frozen in space for the duration of photon exposure, both shape and orientation are uncovered from measured scattering images. We identify regular shapes, including species with fivefold symmetry and surprisingly large aspect ratio up to particle radii of the order of 100 nm. Our approach includes scattering effects beyond Born's approximation and is remarkably efficient-opening up new routes in ultrafast nanophysics and free-electron laser science.


  • Barke, I
  • Hartmann, H
  • Rupp, D
  • Flueckiger, L
  • Sauppe, M
  • Adolph, M
  • Schorb, S
  • Bostedt, C
  • Treusch, R
  • Peltz, C
  • Bartling, S
  • Fennel, T
  • Meiwes-Broer, KH
  • Möller, T

publication date

  • 2015