The solid–liquid phase transition of silica encapsulated bismuth nanoparticles was studied by in situ transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The nanoparticles were prepared by a two-step chemical synthesis process involving thermal decomposition of organometallic precursors for nucleating bismuth and a sol–gel process for growing silica. The microstructural and chemical analyses of the nanoparticles were performed using high-resolution TEM, Z-contrast imaging, focused ion beam milling, and X-ray energy dispersive spectroscopy. Solid–liquid–solid phase transitions of the nanoparticles were directly recorded by electron diffractions and TEM images. The silica encapsulation of the nanoparticles prevented agglomeration and allowed particles to preserve their original volume upon melting, which is desirable for applications of phase changenanoparticles with consistently repeatable thermal properties.
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