Journal: Advanced Functional Materials
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Growing nano-onions and nano-beach balls
A simple way to grow nanoparticles with alternating chemical domains across their surfaces has been developed.
A team co-led by Hiroshi Yabu from the Advanced Institute for Materials Research at Tohoku University made the nanoparticles from block copolymers — long-chain molecules made up from two or more monomers, or building blocks. They synthesised a series of chemically doped block copolymers, in which the two ends of the polymer — like oil and water — do not like to mix. When the block copolymer molecules self-assemble into nanoparticles, the two ends of the polymer segregate themselves to form separate regions within the particle.
Depending on the reaction conditions used, the distinct zones could be layered like an onion, or appear as stripes or patches on the nanoparticle surface. The team could exploit each zone’s unique chemical reactivity to attach different molecules to specific areas of the nanoparticle.
The work is a step towards achieving the structural complexity found in natural materials, and could have applications in biosensing, the researchers say.
- Advanced Functional Materials 28, 1800846 (2018). doi: 10.1002/adfm.201800846