Spontaneous instabilities of nanoparticles are known to be influenced by the temperature, and strongly depend on the particle size. However, it is not clear what is the role of the surrounding material that is in contact with the particle. Here we report on the difference between spontaneous rotations of Bi nanoparticles embedded in amorphous SiO and those embedded in liquid Ga. The phenomenon was studied quantitatively by time resolved transmission electron microscopy using Fourier Transform analysis of highresolution electron microscopy images. While rotations of Bi nanoparticles embedded in amorphous SiO occur by all angles, the rotations of Bi nanoparticles embedded in liquid Ga occur by discrete angles. Our results point quantitatively, for the first time, to the role and importance of the contacting surrounding surface during the rotation of nanoparticles.