Nanoparticles (1-10 nm in diameter) are particularly susceptible to disorder, amorphization, deformation and/or dissolution upon ion irradiation as compared to their bulk counterparts, which is a consequence of the enhanced surface area to volume ratio of the former (structural disorder is often observed to be preferentially located at the surface). Synchrotron-radiation-based analytical techniques are ideally suited for the elucidation of structural perturbations as compared to the bulk material. Such techniques are commonly complemented by cross-sectional transmission electron microscopy (XTEM). XTEM offers invaluable information with respect to shape and morphology of the nanoparticles.
For the present work, Cu nanoparticles were synthesized within a 2 μm amorphous SiO2 matrix on a 520 μm Si support by ion implantation and thermal annealing following a procedure described elsewhere. In order to study the influence that ion irradiation has on the nanoparticles, the sample was then irradiated with 1x1015 ions / cm2 high-energy (5 MeV) Sn+ ions.