PerspectiveNANOMATERIALS

Oxidation at the atomic scale

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Science  21 Apr 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6335, pp. 245
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan0979

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Summary

The rusting, burning, or decomposition of solids in contact with air or liquids has been known since antiquity. In the 19th century, we understood these phenomena to be related to chemical reactions involving a rearrangement of atoms. Since then, we have dreamed of watching the underlying atomic reorganizations in real time. On page 303 of this issue, Sun et al. (1) used x-ray scattering and molecular dynamics simulations to follow with subnanometer spatial resolution the three-dimensional (3D) compositional and morphological evolution of colloidal iron particles as they oxidize.