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Nanotechnology. 2011 May 27;22(21):215607. doi: 10.1088/0957-4484/22/21/215607. Epub 2011 Mar 31.

Ion-induced elongation of gold nanoparticles in silica by irradiation with Ag and Cu swift heavy ions: track radius and energy loss threshold.

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Debye Institute for Nanomaterials, Nanophotonics Section, Utrecht University, PO Box 80000, 3508 TA Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Systematic investigations of the energy loss threshold above which the irradiation-induced elongation of spherical Au nanoparticles occurs are reported. Silica films containing Au nanoparticles with average diameters of 15-80 nm embedded within a single plane were irradiated with 12-54 MeV Ag and 10-45 MeV Cu ions at 300 K and at normal incidence. We demonstrate that the efficiency of the ion-induced nanoparticle elongation increases linearly with the electronic energy transferred per ion track length unit from the energetic ions to the silica film. Ion beam shaping occurs above a threshold value of the specific electronic energy transfer. Three relevant regions are identified with respect to the original size of the Au nanoparticles. For 15 and 30 nm diameter particles, elongation occurs for electronic stopping power larger than 3.5 keV nm(-1). For Au nanoparticles with 40-50 nm diameter an electronic stopping power above 5.5 keV nm(-1) is required for elongation to be observed. Elongation of Au nanoparticles with 80 nm diameter is observed for electronic stopping between ∼ 7-8 keV nm(-1). For all combinations of ions and energies, the ion track temperature profiles are calculated within the framework of the thermal spike model. The correlation between experimental results and simulated data indicates a thermal origin of the increase in the elongation rate with increasing the track diameter.

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