• nanoporous gold;
  • dealloying;
  • X-ray diffraction;
  • small angle X-ray scattering


The formation of nanoporous gold by open circuit dealloying of 100 nm AgAu foils in nitric acid is investigated in situ and in real time by combining synchrotron small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and X-ray diffraction (XRD). The time dependence of the dealloying is followed as a function of acid concentration. For all concentrations, several characteristic dealloying stages are observed. Firstly, there is a fast initial dissolution stage with an increase in surface area due to pore and mound formation; this leads to strain in the nanoporous gold that results from an increase in capillary pressure. After dissolution is complete, there is rapid coarsening of the quasi-periodic, pore–ligament morphology. During this later stage, we deduce strong strain anisotropies that can be explained by preferred crystallographic orientation of ligaments. This rapid coarsening stage is followed by a slow coarsening stage where the SAXS patterns, and hence the quasi-periodic morphology, is self-similar in time. There is a strong correlation between the morphology evolution and strain development, which can be explained by capillary forces.