Qian Chen1

1, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois, United States

We use liquid phase transmission electron microscopy to directly image the self-assembly of colloidal nanoparticles in solution, one-by-one in real-time. Depending on solvent conditions, a single type of anisotropic nanoparticles can lead to a wide variety of final structures not previously predicted: linear and cyclic “polymeric” chains, hierarchical plastic crystals, and highly ordered solids. In-situ monitoring of the dynamic pathways together with computation reveals interesting and novel phenomena in these systems due to inherent many-body coupling and discreteness at the nanoscale. We expect our study to open new opportunities in understanding the conformation, phase behaviors and collective dynamics on the nanometer length scale that is not accessible using other means.