Chemists Developed Designer’s Toolkit to Construct Complex Nanoparticles


Chemists developed a designer’s toolkit to construct complex nanoparticles, according to a study conducted on May 3, 2018.

This study was conducted by the chemists at Penn State. Researchers began with first-generation particles that have dimensions of nanometer scale. These particles are simple, easy-to-make copper sulfide spheres, rods, and plates that serve as springboards for more complex derivatives.

The initial size and shape is defined by the first-generation particles and after replacing some of the copper with other elements such as cadmium and zinc, they are transformed to second-generation particles, which has two materials. Then, into a portion of the original copper sulfide, the new material is carved forming various types of lines or shapes. The junctions between the two materials is represented by the lines, defining frameworks within the particles and creating two-faced spheres, sandwich spheres, capped rods, striped rods, patchy plates, and marbled plates.

Raymond E. Schaak, leader of the research team said, “Here, the materials within the particles are coupled together at the atomic level, and this can lead to additional functions because the materials can now ‘talk’ to each other. We can independently tune the outside shape and size of the particles, the materials that are inside the particles, and the ways in which they are connected.”

Some amount of copper sulfide is still present in all the second-generation particles. This leftover copper sulfide can also be replaced, producing third-generation particles that retain the first-generation size and shape and the second-generation junctions while containing completely different materials than the original first-generation particles. By further mixing and matching of various techniques and materials, higher-generation particles can be made. Finally, a library of 47 distinct nanoparticles from the three simple first-generation spheres, rods, and plates was easily generated by the researchers.


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