Research Area #1: A Universal Ligand for Materials by Design

Research Image #1

Image: Grafting polymer chains to the surface of a nanoparticle allows particles to bind to one another in a controllable manner, thereby generating an ordered lattice of particles linked by polymer chains. An example nanoparticle superlattice is shown at right (scale bar = 500 nm).

Particle assembly is a powerful means of achieving a “materials by design” strategy, where a target structure can be first envisioned, then assembled by grafting molecular ligands to the particles that control how nanoparticles interact with one another .

Our group’s research aims to develop a set of modular, polymer-based ligands that allow us to control how nanoparticles bond to each other, thus achieving a potentially scalable means of generating multiple particle/polymer composite materials in a virtually limitless design space.

The emergent properties of these materials can be tuned by manipulating the chemistry of the polymer ligands, the size/shape/composition of the nanoparticles, or the geometric arrangements of the individual components relative to one another. As a result, these structures have potential application in the areas of plasmonics and photonics, heterogenous catalysis,  and energy storage.

Key Concepts: Nanotechnology, Self-Assembly, Soft Matter, Inorganic Nanoparticles, Polymer Chemistry, Photonic/Plasmonic/Mechanical Properties
Potential Applications: Catalysis, Plasmonic/Photonic Materials, Energy Storage, Electronic Device Fabrication

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