The transformation of Au nanoparticles (NPs) embedded in SiO2 from spherical to rod-like shapes induced by swift heavy ion irradiation has been studied. Irradiation was performed with A197u ions at energies between 54 and 185 MeV. Transmission electron microscopy and small angle x-ray scattering measurements reveal an energy dependent saturation width of the NP rods as well as a minimum size required for the NPs to elongate. The NP saturation width is correlated with the ion track diameter in the SiO2. NP melting and in-plane strain in the irradiated SiO2 are discussed as potential mechanisms for the observed deformation.

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