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Although symmetry breaking is widely realized as one of the most powerful tools in modern scientific researches, it is unclear how symmetry breaking plays its role in nanocosm. Here, we show a correlation between spontaneous symmetry breaking and the formation of nanocrystals. In our experiments, some ZnO nanocrystals, including ZnO tetrapods, rod-based tetrapods, and aeroplane-like crystals, presented with specific structures and symmetries leading to an unexpected process of spontaneous symmetry breaking. According to the rule of spontaneous symmetry breaking, a hypothesis was proposed that the aeroplane-like nanocrystals might be resulted from the unequal development of the crystal twinnings. Subsequent work supported this hypothesis and proved the dramatic effect of spontaneous symmetry breaking. This work applies the rule of spontaneous symmetry breaking to the formation mechanisms for nanocrystals and highlights the causal contribution of spontaneous symmetry breaking to the intricate behaviors of the particles at nanoscale.


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